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Don Pollacco


My research interests are primarily in the area of extra-solar planets. I was responsible for the SuperWASP instrument on La Palma which, along with its sister facility at SAAO, has become the most successful ground based planet detection experiment. Its success was acknowledged with several awards including the RAS Team Award in 2010 (I was honoured to receive the award on behalf of the entire WASP team) and the Time/CNN Top Ten Science Discoveries in Science in 2007 (and I didnt even have to pay them!). I have recently transferred from Queens University Belfast to Warwick to help build the Next Generation Transit Survey at Paranal, Chile. NGTS will concentrate on much smaller planets allowing comparisons to be made between different classes of SuperEarths and Ice-Giants.

I am also involved in several rocky planet searches for example I am an official collaborator on the HARPS-N Kepler Candidate survey and the HARPS-S rocky planet search (PI Udry, Geneva). I have also been looking at circumbinary planets from Kepler and other surveys primarily with my student Dave Armstrong (eg Armstrong et al 2012). I have worked on ground based transit time experiments (eg Gibson et al 2010) amongst other things.

I have extensive experience of space missions and am currently the UK-spokesperson for the ESA CHEOPS mission - which will be concentrating on the transit characterisation of small planets around bright stars found by radial velocity surveys, a science team member of the NASA FINESSE mission which aims to survey exoplanet atmospheres if selected starting in 2017 and the ESA M3 PLATO mission (launch in 2024) for which I am the Science Coordinator. PLATO will do transit detection of rocky planets in the habitable zones of solar and nearby stars, allowing us to understand processes important in planet formation and evolution.

Due to my advancing years (!) I have become a senior member of the UK exoplanet community and have been responsible for many of the recent reports produced for STFC. I am involved at an international level as well (eg NASA Senior Review of Astrophysics Experiments 2012) and helped organise many conferences eg IAU 299 (June 2013, Canada).

Current Interests

1) The most common planets - neptunes and superearths

2) Migration and scattering

3) Exomoons

4) Stellar variability

5) Space based instrumentation

Previous Students and PDRA's

Some of my previous students include Neal Gibson (Lecturer at QUB), James McCormac (ING, La Palma, now Warwick), Liam O'Donaghue (Teaching), Elaine Simpson (Green Energy Industry) and Ian Todd (NYSE). PDRA's that I have had the pleasure of working with include Rachel Street (LCO, Santa Barbara), Jogesh Joshi (ARIES, India), Damian Christian (Northridge) & Susana Barros (LAM, France). Francesca Faedi and Yilen Gomez Maqueo Chew (jointly with my friend, Keivan Stassun at Vanderbilt) moved across to Warwick with me as PDRA's and help keep the boat afloat doing and leading much of the research (Yilen now has a faculty position at UNAM, Mexico). We've since been joned by David Brown and Amanda Doyle. Current students include David Armstrong (final year), Hugh Osborn (2nd year) and Wai Fun Lam (first year).


Current list of publications via ADS

Some of my most sited papers include:

Pollacco et al (2006), The WASP Project and the SuperWASP Cameras, PASP

Collier Cameron et al (2007), WASP-1b and WASP-2b: two new transiting exoplanets detected with SuperWASP and SOPHIE, MNRAS

Hebb et al, (2009), WASP-12b: The Hottest Transiting Extrasolar Planet Yet Discovered, ApJ

Pollacco et al (2008), WASP-3b: a strongly irradiated transiting gas-giant planet, MNRAS

Triaud et al (2011), Spin-orbit angle measurements for six southern transiting planets. New insights into the dynamical origins of hot Jupiters, Astron and Astrophys

While other interesting things I've had roles in include:

Cremonese et al (1998), Neutral Sodium from Comet Hale-Bopp: A Third Type of Tail, ApJ

Madhusudhan et al (2011), A high C/O ratio and weak thermal inversion in the atmosphere of exoplanet WASP-12b, Nature

Write to:

Don Pollacco,
Department of Physics,
University of Warwick,
Coventry CV4 7AL

Contact Details:

Office: PS005
Tel: +44 (0)247 657 4329
Fax: +44 (0)247 669 2016


All publications via ADS
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