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Brian Espey
Associate Professor, Physics



Brian Russell Espey Qualifications: B.A. (Mod) Experimental Physics,

University of Dublin, 1983 (class II1)

Ph.D. in Astronomy, University of Cambridge, 1990 Employment

Nov 2001 - present

Permanent Lecturer, Physics Department, University of Dublin

Also: Research Associate, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies

May 1998 - Oct 2001 Assistant Astronomer, European Space Agency,

stationed at Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD, USA


adjunct Associate Research Scientist, Department of Physics & Astronomy, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA


Academic Visitor, Queen's University of Belfast, Northern Ireland

Jan 1994 - Apr 1998

Associate Research Scientist, Department of Physics & Astronomy, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA Also: adjunct Research Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Oct 1990 - Dec 1993

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Oct 1989 - Sep 1990

Royal Society European Science Exchange Fellow, Leiden Observatory,

The Netherlands

Oct 1983 - Dec 1985

Scientific Officer, Laser Division, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, UK

Fellowships Oct 1989 - Sept 1990 Royal Society European Science Exchange (Leverhulme) Fellow - position held at Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands

Research experience I am primarily an observer experienced with multiwavelength datasets, though also have experience with the tools required to analyse and model the data.

I have worked with instruments covering the infrared through to the X-ray regions of the spectrum, and have an intimate knowledge of spectroscopy and diagnostics and tools (e.g., XSTAR, CLOUDY) as well as data reduction software (STARLINIK, IRAF, STSDAS etc.). In particular, I have worked on the instrument teams for the Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope [HUT], and Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph [STIS]) and have recently specialised in data from STIS and the Far-Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE).

Although UV and far-UV astronomy may be reduced in scope in the next few years, the tools and techniques have application to the spectra reaching us from the high-redshift Universe, since they originate in the rest-frame UV and far-UV portions of the Universe. The relevance of this is due to the ionising nature of the photons from these portions of the spectrum - not only for the immediate neighbourhood of hot stars and active galactic nuclei, but also for the ionisation of the interstellar and intergalactic material, controlling star formation as well as what we can observe in the distant Universe.

My current research centres on three main themes. Studies of mass loss from evolved stars in symbiotic star binaries, and the physical properties and abundance of gas in active galactic nuclei use emission and absorption line spectroscopic diagnostics as well as statistical methods. More recently, I have begun the application of machine intelligence to the interrogation of large databases (in particular the spectroscopic data of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey) in order to identify new samples for statistical, as well as more detailed, study.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Power, M., Del Campo, A.G., and Espey, B., Light pollution: spatial analysis and potential ecological effects in rural Ireland, Irish Geography, 50, (1), 2017, p19 - 36 Journal Article, 2017 TARA - Full Text

Espey, B, McCauley, J, Initial Irish light pollution measurements and a new Sky Quality Meter-based data logger, LIGHTING RESEARCH & TECHNOLOGY, 46, (1), 2014, p67-77 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Crowley, C., Espey, B.R., and McCandliss, S.R., EG And: Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer and Hubble Space Telescope STIS Monitoring of an Eclipsing Symbiotic Binary, Astrophysical Journal, 675, (1), 2008, p711 - 722 Journal Article, 2008 URL URL

Young, P.R., Dupree, A.K., Espey, B.R. , and Kenyon, S.J., High-Ionization Forbidden Lines in the UV Spectrum of AG Draconis, Astrophysical Journal, 650, (2), 2006, p1091 - 1095 Journal Article, 2006 URL URL DOI

Sokoloski, J.L., Kenyon, S.J., Espey, B.R., Keyes, C.D., McCandliss, S.R., Kong, A.K.H., Aufdenberg, J.P., Filippenko, A.V., Li, W., Brocksopp, C., Kaiser, C.R., Charles, P.A., Rupen, M.P. and Stone, R.P.S., A 'Combination Nova' Outburst in Z Andromedae: Nuclear Shell Burning Triggered by a Disk Instability, Astrophysical Journal, 636, (2), 2006, p1002 - 1019 Journal Article, 2006 URL DOI URL

Young, P.R., Dupree, A.K., Espey, B.R., Kenyon, S.J. and Ake, T.B., Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer Observations of the Symbiotic Star AG Draconis, Astrophysical Journal, 618, (2), 2005, p891 - 907 Journal Article, 2005 URL URL

Keenan, F.P., Ahmed, S., Brage, T., Doyle, J.G., Espey, B.R., Exter, K.M., Hibbert, A., Keenan, M.T.C., Madjarska, M.S., Mathioudakis, M. and Pollacco, D.L. 2002, The OIV and SIV intercombination lines in the ultraviolet, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astropnomical Society, 337, 2002, p901 - 909 Journal Article, 2002 URL DOI

Keenan FP, Aller LH, Espey BR, Exter KM, Hyung S, Keenan MT, Pollacco DL, Ryans RS., Emission lines of [K V] in the optical spectra of gaseous nebulae., Publications of the National Academy of Sciences, 99, (7), 2002, p4152 - 4155 Journal Article, 2002 URL DOI

Robert E. Williams, Stefi Baum, Louis E. Bergeron, Nicholas Bernstein, Brett S. Blacker, Brian J. Boyle, Thomas M. Brown, C. Marcella Carollo, Stefano Casertano, Riccardo Covarrubias, Duília F. de Mello, Mark E. Dickinson, Brian R. Espey, Henry C. Ferguson, Andrew Fruchter, Jonathan P. Gardner, Anne Gonnella, Jeffrey Hayes, Paul C. Hewett, Inger Heyer, Richard Hook, Mike Irwin, Daniel Jones, Mary Elizabeth Kaiser, Zolt Levay, Andy Lubenow, Ray A. Lucas, Jennifer Mack, John W. MacKenty, Piero Madau, Russell B. Makidon, Crystal L. Martin, Lisa Mazzuca, Max Mutchler, Ray P. Norris, Beth Perriello, M. M. Phillips, Marc Postman, Patricia Royle, Kailash Sahu, Sandra Savaglio, Alison Sherwin, T. Ed Smith, Massimo Stiavelli, Nicholas B. Suntzeff, Harry I. Teplitz, Roeland P. van der Marel, Alistair R. Walker, Ray J. Weymann, Michael S. Wiggs, Gerard M. Williger, Jennifer Wilson, Norbert Zacharias and David R. Zurek, The Hubble Deep Field South: Formulation of the Observing Campaign, Astronomical Journal, 120, (6), 2000, p2735 - 2746 Journal Article, 2000 DOI TARA - Full Text URL

Birriel, J.J., Espey, B.R., and Schulte-Ladbeck, R.E., Contemporaneous Ultraviolet and Optical Observations of Direct and Raman-scattered O VI Lines in Symbiotic Stars, Astrophysical Journal, 545, 2000, p1020 - 1033 Journal Article, 2000 URL

Gardner, J.P., et al., The Hubble Deep Field South: STIS Imaging, Astronomical Journal, 119, (2), 2000, p486 - 508 Journal Article, 2000 URL DOI URL

Savaglio, Sandra, Ferguson, Henry Brown, Thomas, Espey, Brian, Sahu, Kailash, Baum, Stefi, Carollo, C. Marcella, Kaiser, Mary Elizabeth, Stiavelli, Massimo, Williams, Robert, Wilson, Jennifer, The Lyman-alpha forest of the QSO in the Hubble Deep Field South , Astrophysical Journal Letters, 515, (1), 1999 Journal Article, 1999 TARA - Full Text URL

F. P. Keenan, B. R. Espey, M. Mathioudakis, K. M. Aggarwal, F. L. Crawford, [Alii] in the ultraviolet spectrum of the symbiotic star RR Telescopii, Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 309, 1999, p195-198 Journal Article, 1999 TARA - Full Text URL

John P. Grimes, Gerard A. Kriss and Brian R. Espey, Spatially Resolved Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope Spectra of NGC 1068, The Astrophysical Journal, 526, 1999, p130-140 Journal Article, 1999 URL

Kruk, Jeffrey W. and Brown, Thomas M. and Davidsen, Arthur F. and Espey, Brian R. , Final Astro-2 Calibration of the Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope, Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series , 122, 1999, p299 - 329 Journal Article, 1999 TARA - Full Text URL DOI

Keenan, F. P.; Aller, L. H.; Bell, K. L.; Espey, B. R.; Feibelman, W. A.; Hyung, S.; McKenna, F. C.; Ramsbottom, C. A., Forbidden emission lines of NE IV in the optical and ultraviolet spectra of gaseous nebulae, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 295, 1998, p683 - 690 Journal Article, 1998 URL TARA - Full Text

Jennifer J. Birriel, Brian R. Espey and Regina E. Schulte-Ladbeck, Near-simultaneous observations of direct and Raman-scattered Lines in the Symbiotic Star Z Andromedae , Astrophysical Journal, 507, 1998, pL75 - L78 Journal Article, 1998 URL TARA - Full Text

Espey, B. R.; Kriss, G. A.; Krolik, J. H.; Zheng, W.; Tsvetanov, Z.; Davidsen, A. F., Far-ultraviolet observations of NGC 4151 during the ORFEUS-SPAS II mission, Astrophysical Journal , 500, 1998, pL13 - L16 Journal Article, 1998 TARA - Full Text URL DOI

Turnshek, David A.; Monier, Eric M.; Sirola, Christopher J.; Espey, Brian R., A Hubble Space Telescope Faint Object Spectrograph Survey for Broad Absorption Lines in a Sample of Low-Redshift Weak [O iii] Quasi-stellar Objects, Astrophysical Journal, 476, 1997, p40-48 Journal Article, 1997 URL DOI TARA - Full Text

Cooke, A. J.; Espey, B.; Carswell, R. F., Evolution of the ionizing background at high redshifts, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 284, (3), 1997, p552-568 Journal Article, 1997 TARA - Full Text

Wanders, I.; Peterson, B. M.; Alloin, D.; Ayres, T. R.; Clavel, J.; Crenshaw, D. M.; Horne, K.; Kriss, G. A.; Krolik, J. H.; Malkan, M. A.; Netzer, H.; O'Brien, P. T.; Reichert, G. A.; Rodriguez-Pascual, P. M.; Wamsteker, W.; Alexander, T.; Anderson, K. S. J.; Benitez, E.; Bochkarev, N. G.; Burenkov, A. N.; Cheng, F.-Z.; Collier, S. J.; Comastri, A.; Dietrich, M.; Dultzin-Hacyan, D.; Espey, B. R.; Filippenko, A. V.; Gaskell, C. M.; George, I. M.; Goad, M. R.; Ho, L. C.; Kaspi, S.; Kollatschny, W.; Korista, K. T.; Laor, A.; MacAlpine, G. M.; Mignoli, M.; Morris, S. L.; Nandra, K.; Penton, S.; Pogge, R. W.; Ptak, R. L.; Rodriguez-Espinoza, J. M.; Santos-Lleo, M.; Shapovalova, A. I.; Shull, J. M.; Snedden, S. A.; Sparke, L. S.; Stirpe, G. M.; Sun, W.-H.; Turner, T. J.; Ulrich, M.-H.; Wang, T.-G.; Wei, C.; Welsh, W. F.; Xue, S.-J.; Zou, Z.-L., Steps toward Determination of the Size and Structure of the Broad-Line Region in Active Galactic Nuclei. XI. Intensive Monitoring of the Ultraviolet Spectrum of NGC 7469, Astrophysical Journal , 113, 1997, p69-88 Journal Article, 1997 URL TARA - Full Text DOI

Turnshek, David A.; Kopko, Michael, Jr.; Monier, Eric; Noll, Donette; Espey, Brian R.; Weymann, Ray J., Far-Ultraviolet Spectra of Broad Absorption Line QSOs and Constraints on Models for the Ionization Structure and Metallicity of the BAL-Region Gas, Astrophysical Journal, 463, 1996, p110 Journal Article, 1996 TARA - Full Text DOI

Espey, B.; Keenan, F. P.; McKenna, F. C.; Feibelman, W. A.; Aggarwal, K. M., NE V and NE VI Lines in the Ultraviolet Spectrum of the Symbiotic Star RR Telescopii, Astrophysical Journal , 465, 1996, p965-971 Journal Article, 1996 TARA - Full Text DOI

Kriss, G. A.; Krolik, J. H.; Otani, C.; Espey, B. R.; Turner, T. J.; Kii, T.; Tsvetanov, Z.; Takahashi, T.; Davidsen, A. F.; Tashiro, M.; Zheng, W.; Murakami, S.; Petre, R.; Mihara, T., ASCA Observations of the Composite Warm Absorber in NGC 3516, Astrophysical Journal , 467, 1996, p629-635 Journal Article, 1996 DOI URL TARA - Full Text

Kriss, G. A.; Espey, B. R.; Krolik, J. H.; Tsvetanov, Z.; Zheng, W.; Davidsen, A. F., Far-Ultraviolet Observations of NGC 3516 Using the Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope, Astrophysical Journal, 467, 1996, p622-628 Journal Article, 1996 DOI TARA - Full Text

Turnshek, David A.; Lupie, Olivia L.; Rao, Sandhya M.; Espey, Brian R.; Sirola, Christopher J., Hubble Space Telescope Observations of the Gravitationally Lensed Cloverleaf Broad Absorption Line QSO H1413+1143: Imaging, Astrophysical Journal , 485, 1996, p100-111 Journal Article, 1996 DOI TARA - Full Text URL

Kriss, Gerard A.; Davidsen, Arthur F.; Zheng, Wei; Kruk, Jeffrey W.; Espey, Brian R., The Far-Ultraviolet Spectrum of NGC 4151 as Observed with the Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope on Astro-2, Astrophysical Journal Letters, 454, 1995, pL7-L10 Journal Article, 1995 DOI TARA - Full Text

Filippenko, Alexei V.; Barth, Aaron J.; Matheson, Thomas; Armus, Lee; Brown, Michael; Espey, Brian R.; Fan, Xiao-Ming; Goodrich, Robert W.; Ho, Luis C.; Junkkarinen, Vesa T.; Koo, David C.; Lehnert, Matthew D.; Martel, Andre R.; Mazzarella, Joseph M.; Miller, Joseph S.; Smith, Graeme H.; Tytler, David; Wirth, Gregory D., The Type IC Supernova 1994I in M51: Detection of Helium and Spectral Evolution, Astrophysical Journal Letters, 450, 1995, pL11-L15 Journal Article, 1995 URL TARA - Full Text DOI

Kruk, Jeffrey W.; Durrance, Samuel T.; Kriss, Gerard A.; Davidsen, Arthur F.; Blair, William P.; Espey, Brian R.; Finley, David S., Performance and Preliminary Calibration of the Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope on the Astro-2 Mission, Astrophysical Journal Letters, 454, 1995, pL1-L6 Journal Article, 1995 DOI URL TARA - Full Text

Korista, K. T.; Alloin, D.; Barr, P.; Clavel, J.; Cohen, R. D.; Crenshaw, D. M.; Evans, I. N.; Horne, K.; Koratkar, A. P.; Kriss, G. A.; et. al., Steps toward determination of the size and structure of the broad-line region in active galatic nuclei. 8: an intensive HST, IUE, and ground-based study of NGC 5548, Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series , 97, (2), 1995, p285-330 Journal Article, 1995 TARA - Full Text DOI

Espey, Brian R.; Schulte-Ladbeck, Regina E.; Kriss, Gerard A.; Hamann, Fred; Schmid, Hans M.; Johnson, Joni J., Simultaneous Observation of Direct and Raman-scattered O VI Lines in the Symbiotic Nova RR Telescopii, Astrophysical Journal Letters , 454, 1995, pL61-L64 Journal Article, 1995 TARA - Full Text DOI

Turnshek, David A.; Espey, Brian R.; Kopko, Michael, Jr.; Rauch, Michael; Weymann, Ray J.; Jannuzi, Buell T.; Boksenberg, Alec; Bergeron, Jacqueline; Hartig, George F.; Sargent, W. L. W.; Savage, Blair D.; Schneider, Donald P.; Wolfe, Arthur M., The HST quasar absorption line key project. 4: HST faint-object spectrograph and ground-based observations of the unusual low-redshift broad absorption-line quasi-stellar object PG 0043+039, Astrophysical Journal, Part 1, 428, (1), 1994, p93-112 Journal Article, 1994 TARA - Full Text DOI URL

Espey, B.R., Turnshek, D.A., Lee, L., Weymann, R.J., Bahcall, J.N., Bergeron, J., Boksenberg, A., Hartig, G.F., Januzzi, B.T., Sargent, W.L.W., Savage, B.D., Schneider, D.P., and Wolfe, A.M., The HST Absorption Line Key Project. IX. Emission Line Studies of PG 2251+113, Astrophysical Journal, 434, 1994, p484 - 492 Journal Article, 1994 URL

Baker, A. C.; Carswell, R. F.; Bailey, J. A.; Espey, B. R.; Smith, M. G.; Ward, M. J., Infrared Spectroscopy of High-Redshift Quasars, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 270, (3), 1994, p575 - 579 Journal Article, 1994 URL TARA - Full Text

Espey, Brian R., The influence of QSO emission-line velocity shifts on estimates of the intergalactic background intensity, Astrophysical Journal, Part 2 - Letters, 411, (2), 1993, pL59-L62 Journal Article, 1993 TARA - Full Text DOI

Espey, B, The Influence of QSO Emission Line Velocity Shifts on Estimates of the Intergalactic Ionizing Background, Astrophysical Journal, 411, 1993, pL59 - L62 Journal Article, 1993 URL

Carswell, R. F.; Mountain, C. M.; Robertson, D. J.; Beard, S. M.; Glendinning, A. R.; Laird, D. C.; Lawrence, L. C.; Montgomery, D.; Pentland, G.; Pickup, D. A et al., The systemic redshift of the quasar 1331 + 170, Astrophysical Journal, Part 2 - Letters, 381, (1), 1991, pL5-L8 Journal Article, 1991 TARA - Full Text DOI

Espey, B. R. and Carswell, R. F. and Bailey, J. A. and Smith, M. G. and Ward, M. J., H-alpha emission lines in high-redshift quasars, Astrophysical Journal , 342, 1989, p666 - 676 Journal Article, 1989 TARA - Full Text DOI

Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications

Brian Espey, Dark Skies, Tourism & Sustainability, National Tourism Conference, Listowel, Co. Kerry, 5-6 September 2017, 2017, Kerry County Council Invited Talk, 2017

Brian Espey, Intelligent Lighting: How Not to be Seen in a Bad Light , Mayo Dark Skies Festival, Mulranny, Co. Mayo, 27-29 October 2017, 2017, Mayo Dark Skies Festival Invited Talk, 2017

Brian Espey, Light Pollution - WATTS it all about? , Launch of Cork Sky Friendly Campaign, Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork, 14 July 2017, 2017, Blackrock Castle Observatory Invited Talk, 2017

Ribas, S. J., Aubé, M., Bará, S., Bouroussis, C., Canal-Domingo, R., Espey, B., Hänel, A., Jechow, A., Kolláth, Z., Marti, G., Massana, P., Schmidt, W., Spoelstra, H., Wuchterl, G., Zamorano, J., Kyba, C., Report of the 2016 STARS4ALL/LoNNe Intercomparison Campaign, Potsdam, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ, 2017, p1 - 69 Report, 2017

Brian Espey, 'Light Pollution in Ireland', Drive, Newstalk Drive 29th March 2017, Dublin, Newstalk 106-108fm, 2017, - Broadcast, 2017

Brian Espey, 'Light Pollution and AstroTourism', Newstalk Drive, 8th September 2017, (Drive), Dublin, Newstalk 106-108fm, 2017, - Broadcast, 2017

Brian Espey, Light@Night: Environment, Ecology and Health, 20th April 2016, In:Light@Night: Environment, Ecology and Health, 2016, School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin Meetings /Conferences Organised, 2016

Hänel, A., Jechow, A., Kolláth, Z., Mart, G., Massana, P. , Schmidt, W., Spoelstra, H., Wuchterl, G., Zamorano, J., and Kyba, C.M., "Report of the 2016 STARS4ALL/LoNNe Intercomparison Campaign ", 2016, p1-- Report, 2016 URL

Claire Daly, The Ecological Effects of Light Pollution: A Three Site (Bull Island, Trinity College Dublin & Killiney Hill) Comparative Study, Trinity College Dublin, 2016 Thesis, 2016

Espey, B., and Crowley, C., Mass-loss from Red Giants, RS Ophiuchi (2006), Keele, UK, 12-14 June, 2007, Nye Evans (Chair), 11pp Invited Talk, 2007 URL TARA - Full Text

Crowley, C., and Espey, B., Eclipse Mapping of Symbiotic Binaries, Baltic Astronomy, 16, 2007, p10 - 13 Journal Article, 2007 URL

Sokoloski, J.L., Kenyon, S.J., Kong, A.K.H., Espey, B.R., McCandliss, S.R., Keyes, C.D., Li, W., Filippenko, A. V., Aufdenberg, J., Brocksopp, C., Kaiser, C.R., Charles, P. A., and Stone, R.P.S., A new kind of nova , The Astrophysics of Cataclysmic Variables and Related Objects, edited by J.-M. Hameury and J.-P. Lasota , 330, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 2005, pp293 - 299 Conference Paper, 2005 URL

Crowley, C., Espey, B.R., McCandliss, S.R., A Wind analysis of an evolved Giant - FUSE and HST/STIS observations of an eclipsing Symbiotic Binary, 13th Cool Stars, Stellar Systems and the Sun, Hamburg, Germany, 2004, ESA SP-560, European Space Agency, 2005, pp343 - 350 Conference Paper, 2005 URL

Young, P.R., Espey, B., Kenyon, S.J. and Dupree, A.K., AG Draconis - a High Density Plasma Laboratory, Frontiers of High Resolution Spectroscopy, 25th meeting of the IAU, Joint Discussion, Sydney, Australia, 23-24th July 2003, 2003, pp22- Conference Paper, 2003

Espey, B.R. and McCandliss, S.R., Far-ultraviolet Observations of the Symbiotic EG And, Symbiotic Stars: Probing Stellar Evolution, Symbiotic Stars, La Palma, Canary Islands, edited by R.L.M. Corradi, J. Mikolajewska & T.J. Mahoney , 303, Astronomical Society of the Pacific: San Francisco, 2003, pp72 - 76 Conference Paper, 2003

Sokoloski, J.L., Kenyon, S.J., Kong, A.K.H., Charles, P.A., Kaiser, C.R., Seymour, N., Espey, B.R., Keyes, C.D., McCandliss, S.R., Filippenko, A.V., Li, W., Pooley, G.G., Brocksopp, C. and Stone, R.P.S., Outbursts of classical symbiotics: Multi-wavelength observations of the 2000-2001 outburst of Z Andromedae, Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, The Physics of Cataclysmic Variables and Related Objects, edited by B.T. Gänsicke, K. Beuermann, & K. Reinsch , 261, Astronomical Society of the Pacific: San Francisco, 2002, pp667 - 668 Conference Paper, 2002 URL TARA - Full Text

McCandliss, S.R., Espey, B. and Frey, B., FUSE Observations of the Symbiotic System EG And, Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, American Astronomical Society, 2001, pp1327- Conference Paper, 2001

Turnshek, D.A., Chae, K.-H., Rao, S.M., Espey, B.R., Lupie, O.L., Monier, E.M., Schulte-Ladbeck, R.E. and Sirola, C.J. , Science with the Cloverleaf QSO H1413+1143: Some Observational Studies and Models, Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, Gravitational Lensing: Recent Progress and Future Goals, .G. Brainerd & C.S. Kochanek, 237, Astronomical Society of the Pacific: San Francisco, 2001, pp105- Conference Paper, 2001

Research Expertise


Emission and absorption line spectroscopy of symbiotic stars and active galactic nuclei. Modelling of symbiotic binaries and AGN. Development of emission line diagnostics. Intelligent software analysis of large astrophysical databases.


  • Title
    • Mapping Light Pollution across Ireland
  • Summary
    • Since 2009 I have been undertaking measurements of night-time sky light at numerous sites across Ireland. More recently, I have included satellite-based observations to provide quantitative measurements of the emission of light to space, which can then be compared at the sky conditions as seen from the ground. My work has supported the development of an internationally-recognised Gold Standard Dark Sky Park in Mayo, and I have provided assistance to Kerry and Mayo County Councils on the choice of light abatement techniques and appropriate lighting. I am currently undertaking studies with colleagues on the impact of light on ecology and also human health as well as providing support for the development of Dark Skies Tourism.
  • Date From
    • 01/09/2009
  • Title
    • Understanding the Origins of the Common Elements: Mass-Loss from Red Giant Stars
  • Summary
    • The majority of elements required for life and planet formation are released from the interior of highly evolved stars through dense stellar winds. An understanding of this mass-loss process is important in order to understand planetary formation and also the future fate of our sun. Despite this, the formation process of these winds remains the major outstanding problem in stellar astrophysics. We propose a study using grid-based computational modelling of these winds. These models will be constrained using results from an innovative analysis of our space telescope data, resulting in the identification of the wind-driving mechanism.
  • Funding Agency
    • Science Foundation Ireland
  • Date From
    • 15 July 2006
  • Date To
    • 14th July 2009
  • Title
  • Summary
    • Our knowledge of cool giant stars is primarily drawn from isolated stars that, because of their temperature, emit in the wavelength regions longwards of the optical. Traditionally, the winds of these stars have been studied in the infrared through radio regions of the spectrum and most studies have obtained data from cool outflow material ~5 or more stellar radii from the star. In the ultraviolet (UV) region of the spectrum and, particularly in the far-ultraviolet (FUV) region - where a large number of useful molecular lines and resonance absorptions can be found - there is negligible continuum emission, thus restricting the diagnostics available for the cool wind material. In addition, most spectroscopic observations are based upon whole-disk data since the stars are far enough away to be telescopically unresolved. One of the most important goals of giant star studies is to test stellar atmospheric models and, at the same time, determine how a stellar wind is initially generated on the red giant. Red giant winds are ubiquitous, and the stars plentiful, so understanding how a wind develops and transports chemically enriched material back into the interstellar medium is a fundamentally important research aim.
  • Funding Agency
    • Enterprise Ireland
  • Date From
    • 1st August 2002
  • Date To
    • 31st July 2006





Committee member, Royal Irish Academy Astronomy and Space Sciences Committee Chair, RIA Subcommittee on Light Pollution 2010

Awards and Honours

Royal Society Leverhulme Fellowship 1989-1990


Fellow, Royal Astronomical Society January 1979 – current

Member, Astronomical Science Group of Ireland (ASGI) November 2001

Member, American Astronomical Society 1990 – current