Dr Phil Evans

I work on the Swift satellite (http://www.swift.ac.uk). I am responsible for the XRT automated products, and I'm particularly interested in multi-messenger astronomy

Swift Development Scientist

photo of me

BSc (Hons), PhD (Keele)

Tel: 0116 252 5059

Email: pae9@leicester.ac.uk

Office: Room G49, Physics building

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Follow me on Twitter: @swift_phil

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I was an undergraduate student at Keele University from 1999-2002, where I earned a first class degree in astrophysics. I then took my PhD at Keele as well. This was done working under Coel Hellier, studying the X-ray emission from interacting binary star systems, and was my first introduction to X-ray astronomy. I completed my PhD in 2005, and worked as a researcher for a further year at Keele. In 2006 I moved to the University of Leicester, joining the post-launch support team for the Swift satellite, working particularly on the X-ray Telescope. In this role I has developed the much-lauded tools to automatically analyse the X-ray data from Swift, and produced the 1SXPS catalogue which characterised 150,000 X-ray emitting objects seen by Swift. I have been involved in multi-messenger astronomy since 2011, when Swift began to search for X-ray counterparts to possible neutrinos detected by the IceCube facility. I lead the effort to use Swift to find the counterparts to gravitational wave triggers, having develop techniques to enable and optimise this.

Research interests

I am very interested in the newly-emerging field of 'multi-messenger' astronomy. This involves combining traditional astronomy with light (mainly X-rays in my case) with newly-emerging astronomical tools such as neutrinos and gravitational waves. These allow us to study phenomena, such as the merging of neutron stars, in much greater detail than was previously possible. This is a challenging field and I lead efforts to follow up gravitational wave events, with Swift.

I work primarily on Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) — enormous explosions in space, believed to be the death of massive stars. The Swift satellite has revolutionised our understanding of  GRBs but also it has raised many new questions. I am particularly interested in the X-ray afterglows, and what causes the wide range of types seen.


Science Communication

In my role as a Swift scientist I tweet about work (@swift_phil). I also give occasional talks to schools or astronomical societies, and have written guest posts for the "Geeked on Goddard" blog hosted at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. At the 2013 BBC Stargazing Live event hosted at the University of Leicester I gave 2 public talks entitled , "How to blow up a star."

Selected Publications

  • Swift follow-up of gravitational wave triggers: results from the first aLIGO run and optimisation for the future, Evans P.A., et al, 2016, MNRAS, 462, 1591, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stw1746
  • Swift follow-up of the gravitational wave source GW150914, Evans P.A., et al, 2016, MNRAS, 460, L40 DOI: 10.1093/mnrasl/slw065
  • Optimization of the Swift X-ray follow-up of Advanced LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave triggers in 2015-16, Evans P.A., et al., 2016, MNRAS, 455, 1522, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stv2213
  • 1SXPS: A Deep Swift X-Ray Telescope Point Source Catalog with Light Curves and Spectra, Evans P.A., et al, 2014, ApJS, 210, 8, DOI: 10.1088/0067-0049/210/1/8
  • Swift follow-up observations of candidate gravitational-wave transient events, Evans P.A., et al, 2012, ApJ, 203, 28, DOI: 10.1088/0067-0049/203/2/28
  • Methods and results of an automatic analysis of a complete sample of Swift-XRT observations of GRBs , Evans P.A., et al, 2009, MNRAS, 397, 1177, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.14913.x


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