V. S. Dhillon - University of Sheffield

V. S. Dhillon
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V. S. Dhillon
University of Sheffield
United Kingdom

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Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (40)
Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (10)
High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (7)
Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (5)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (2)

Publications Authored By V. S. Dhillon

Quasi-periodic oscillations (QPOs) of a few seconds have been detected in some Polars, the synchronised subclass of cataclysmic systems containing a strongly magnetised white dwarf (WD) which accretes matter from a red dwarf companion. The QPOs are thought to be related to instabilities of a shock formed in the accretion column, close to the WD photosphere above the impact region. We present optical observations of the polar V834 Centauri performed with the fast ULTRACAM camera mounted on the ESO-VLT simultaneously in three filters (u', He II 4686A, r') to study these oscillations and characterise their properties along the orbit. Read More

Affiliations: 1California Institute of Technology, 2Radboud University Nijmegen, 3University of California, Santa Barbara, 4University of Tuebingen, 5University of Warwick, 6Radboud University Nijmegen, 7Radboud University Nijmegen, 8California Institute of Technology, 9California Institute of Technology, 10University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, 11University of California, Santa Barbara, 12Northwestern University, 13University of Sheffield, 14University of Sheffield, 15University of Warwick, 16National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, 17Spitzer Science Center, Caltech, 18University of Sheffield, 19Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, Caltech, 20California Institute of Technology, 21University of Sheffield, 22University of Cambridge

We present the discovery of the hot subdwarf B star (sdB) binary PTF1 J082340.04+081936.5. Read More

We present new time-resolved photometry of 74 cataclysmic variables (CVs), 47 of which are eclipsing. 13 of these eclipsing systems are newly discovered. For all 47 eclipsing systems we show high cadence (1-20 seconds) light curves obtained with the high-speed cameras ultracam and ultraspec. Read More

After more than 26 years in quiescence, the black hole transient V404 Cyg went into a luminous outburst in June 2015, and additional activity was detected in late December of the same year. Here, we present an optical spectroscopic follow-up of the December mini-outburst, together with X-ray, optical and radio monitoring that spanned more than a month. Strong flares with gradually increasing intensity are detected in the three spectral ranges during the ~10 days following the Swift trigger. Read More

The majority of cataclysmic variable (CV) stars contain a stochastic noise component in their light curves, commonly referred to as flickering. This can significantly affect the morphology of CV eclipses and increases the difficulty in obtaining accurate system parameters with reliable errors through eclipse modelling. Here we introduce a new approach to eclipse modelling, which models CV flickering with the help of Gaussian processes (GPs). Read More

We have recorded three lunar occultations of Aldebaran (AlfTau) at different telescopes and using various band-passes, from the ultraviolet to the far red. The data have been analyzed using both model-dependent and model-independent methods. The derived uniform-disc angular diameter values have been converted to limb-darkened values using model atmosphere relations, and are found in broad agreement among themselves and with previous literature values. Read More

We have measured the transmission spectrum of the extremely inflated hot Jupiter WASP-52b using simultaneous photometric observations in SDSS u', g' and a filter centred on the sodium doublet (NaI) with the ULTRACAM instrument mounted on the 4.2m William Herschel Telescope. We find that Rayleigh scattering is not the dominant source of opacity within the planetary atmosphere and find a transmission spectrum more consistent with wavelength-independent opacity such as from clouds. Read More

Affiliations: 1Armagh Observatory, 2Armagh Observatory, 3Radboud Univ and UCT, 4Radboud Univ, 5UCT, 6Sheffield and IAC, 7Armagh, 8Warwick, 9Radboud, 10Warwick

OmegaWhite is a wide-field, high cadence, synoptic survey targeting fields in the southern Galactic plane, with the aim of discovering short period variable stars. Our strategy is to take a series of 39 s exposures in the g band of a 1 square degree of sky lasting 2 h using the OmegaCAM wide field imager on the VLT Survey Telescope (VST). We give an overview of the initial 4 years of data which covers 134 square degrees and includes 12. Read More

Multi-colour broad-band transit observations offer the opportunity to characterise the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet with small- to medium-sized telescopes. One of the most favourable targets is the hot Jupiter HAT-P-32 b. We combined 21 new transit observations of this planet with 36 previously published light curves for a homogeneous analysis of the broad-band transmission spectrum from the Sloan u' band to the Sloan z' band. Read More

White dwarfs are compact stars, similar in size to Earth but ~200,000 times more massive. Isolated white dwarfs emit most of their power from ultraviolet to near-infrared wavelengths, but when in close orbits with less dense stars, white dwarfs can strip material from their companions, and the resulting mass transfer can generate atomic line and X-ray emission, as well as near- and mid-infrared radiation if the white dwarf is magnetic. However, even in binaries, white dwarfs are rarely detected at far-infrared or radio frequencies. Read More

We present long-term photometric observations of the young open cluster IC 348 with a baseline time-scale of 2.4 yr. Our study was conducted with several telescopes from the Young Exoplanet Transit Initiative (YETI) network in the Bessel $R$ band to find periodic variability of young stars. Read More

GJ3470b is a hot Neptune exoplanet orbiting an M dwarf and the first sub-Jovian planet to exhibit Rayleigh scattering. We present transit timing variation (TTV) and transmission spectroscopy analyses of multi-wavelength optical photometry from 2.4-m and 0. Read More

We present a long-term programme for timing the eclipses of white dwarfs in close binaries to measure apparent and/or real variations in their orbital periods. Our programme includes 67 close binaries, both detached and semi-detached and with M-dwarfs, K-dwarfs, brown dwarfs or white dwarfs secondaries. In total, we have observed more than 650 white dwarf eclipses. Read More

Brown dwarfs and giant planets orbiting close to a host star are subjected to significant irradiation that can modify the properties of their atmospheres. In order to test the atmospheric models that are used to describe these systems, it is necessary to obtain accurate observational estimates of their physical properties (masses, radii, temperatures, albedos). Interacting compact binary systems provide a natural laboratory for studying strongly irradiated sub-stellar objects. Read More

We present a long-term study of the secondary star in the cataclysmic variable AE~Aqr, using Roche tomography to indirectly image starspots on the stellar surface spanning 8~years of observations. The 7 maps show an abundance of spot features at both high and low latitudes. We find that all maps have at least one large high-latitude spot region, and we discuss its complex evolution between maps, as well as its compatibility with current dynamo theories. Read More

We present observations of rapid (sub-second) optical flux variability in V404 Cyg during its 2015 June outburst. Simultaneous three-band observations with the ULTRACAM fast imager on four nights show steep power spectra dominated by slow variations on ~100-1000s timescales. Near the peak of the outburst on June 26, a dramatic change occurs and additional, persistent sub-second optical flaring appears close in time to giant radio and X-ray flaring. Read More

We present high speed photometry and high resolution spectroscopy of the eclipsing post common envelope binary QS Virginis (QS Vir). Our UVES spectra span multiple orbits over more than a year and reveal the presence of several large prominences passing in front of both the M star and its white dwarf companion, allowing us to triangulate their positions. Despite showing small variations on a timescale of days, they persist for more than a year and may last decades. Read More

We present an extensive survey for rapid pulsators among Extreme Horizontal Branch (EHB) stars in omega Cen. The observations performed consist of nearly 100 hours of time-series photometry, as well as low-resolution spectroscopy. We obtained photometry for some 300 EHB stars. Read More

Affiliations: 1University of Maryland College Park, 2Queen's University Belfast, 3University of Washington, 4University of Oklahoma, 5University of Sheffield, 6University of Warwick, 7University of Washington, 8University of Colorado

We present a large dataset of high cadence dMe flare light curves obtained with custom continuum filters on the triple-beam, high-speed camera system ULTRACAM. The measurements provide constraints for models of the NUV and optical continuum spectral evolution on timescales of ~1 second. We provide a robust interpretation of the flare emission in the ULTRACAM filters using simultaneously-obtained low-resolution spectra during two moderate-sized flares in the dM4. Read More

We report results of the first five observing campaigns for the open stellar cluster NGC 7243 in the frame of project Young Exoplanet Transit Initiative (YETI). The project focuses on the monitoring of young and nearby stellar clusters, with the aim to detect young transiting exoplanets, and to study other variability phenomena on time-scales from minutes to years. After five observing campaigns and additional observations during 2013 and 2014, a clear and repeating transit-like signal was detected in the light curve of J221550. Read More

We obtained high-speed photometry of the disintegrating planetesimals orbiting the white dwarf WD1145+017, spanning a period of four weeks. The light curves show a dramatic evolution of the system since the first observations obtained about seven months ago. Multiple transit events are detected in every light curve, which have varying durations(~3-12min) and depths (~10-60%). Read More

We report further results from the program of lunar occultation (LO) observations started at the 2.4-m Thai National Telescope (TNT) in 2014. We have recorded LO events of 18 stellar sources, leading to the detection of four angular diameters and two binary stars. Read More

SDSS J1021+1744 is a detached, eclipsing white dwarf / M dwarf binary discovered in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Outside the primary eclipse, the light curves of such systems are usually smooth and characterised by low-level variations caused by tidal distortion and heating of the M star component. Early data on SDSS J1021+1744 obtained in June 2012 was unusual in showing a dip in flux of uncertain origin shortly after the white dwarf's eclipse. Read More

The central engines of disc-accreting stellar-mass black holes appear to be scaled down versions of the supermassive black holes that power active galactic nuclei. However, if the physics of accretion is universal, it should also be possible to extend this scaling to other types of accreting systems, irrespective of accretor mass, size, or type. We examine new observations, obtained with Kepler/K2 and ULTRACAM, regarding accreting white dwarfs and young stellar objects. Read More

Affiliations: 1Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Sheffield, UK, 2Centre for Advanced Instrumentation, Department of Physics, University of Durham, UK, 3Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Sheffield, UK, 4Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Sheffield, UK, 5Centre for Advanced Instrumentation, Department of Physics, University of Durham, UK

pt5m is a 0.5m robotic telescope located on the roof of the 4.2m William Herschel Telescope (WHT) building, at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, La Palma. Read More

The detection of trends or gradients in the transmission spectrum of extrasolar planets is possible with observations at very low spectral resolution. Transit measurements of sufficient accuracy using selected broad-band filters allow for an initial characterization of the atmosphere of the planet. We obtained time series photometry of 20 transit events and analyzed them homogeneously, along with eight light curves obtained from the literature. Read More


We present time-resolved optical photometry of the binary millisecond `redback' pulsar PSR J1023+0038 (=AY Sex) during its low-mass X-ray binary phase. The light curves taken between 2014 January and April show an underlying sinusoidal modulation due to the irradiated secondary star and accretion disc. We also observe superimposed rapid flaring on time-scales as short as ~20 s with amplitudes of ~0. Read More

We report the discovery and characterisation of a deeply eclipsing AM CVn-system, Gaia14aae (= ASSASN-14cn). Gaia14aae was identified independently by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN; Shappee et al. 2014) and by the Gaia Science Alerts project, during two separate outbursts. Read More

Scintillation noise due to the Earth's turbulent atmosphere can be a dominant noise source in high-precision astronomical photometry when observing bright targets from the ground. Here we describe the phenomenon of scintillation from its physical origins to its effect on photometry. We show that Young's (1967) scintillation-noise approximation used by many astronomers tends to underestimate the median scintillation noise at several major observatories around the world. Read More

Affiliations: 1IAC/ULL, 2IAC/ULL, 3Warwick, 4Warwick, 5Warwick, 6STScI, 7IAC/ULL, 8IAC/ULL, 9AIP, 10Valparaíso, 11SRON, 12Kiel, 13Sheffield, 14Rodeno Obs., 15Guadarrama Obs.

We present the first dynamical determination of the binary parameters of an eclipsing SW Sextantis star in the 3-4 hour orbital period range during a low state. We obtained time-resolved optical spectroscopy and photometry of HS 0220+0603 during its 2004-2005 low brightness state, as revealed in the combined SMARTS, IAC80 and M1 Group long-term optical light curve. The optical spectra taken during primary eclipse reveal a secondary star spectral type of M5. Read More

Gaia will identify several 1e5 white dwarfs, most of which will be in the solar neighborhood at distances of a few hundred parsecs. Ground-based optical follow-up spectroscopy of this sample of stellar remnants is essential to unlock the enormous scientific potential it holds for our understanding of stellar evolution, and the Galactic formation history of both stars and planets. Read More

We present the results of a search for nova shells around 101 cataclysmic variables (CVs), using Halpha images taken with the 4.2-m William Herschel Telescope (WHT) and the 2.5-m Isaac Newton Telescope Photometric Halpha Survey of the Northern Galactic Plane (IPHAS). Read More

Affiliations: 1Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK, 2Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK, 3Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK, 4Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK, 5Department of Physics, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK, 6Department of Physics and Astronomy, Macquarie University, Australia, 7Department of Physical Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK, 8Department of Physics, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK, 9Department of Physics, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK, 10Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK, 11Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK, 12Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK, 13Departmento de Fisica y Astronomia, Universidad de Valparaiso, Valparaiso, Chile, 14Department of Physics, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK, 15Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK, 16Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK, 17Department of Physics, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

We present high-speed, three-colour photometry of the eclipsing dwarf nova PHL 1445, which, with an orbital period of 76.3 min, lies just below the period minimum of ~82 min for cataclysmic variable stars. Averaging four eclipses reveals resolved eclipses of the white dwarf and bright spot. Read More

We report on the search for new eclipsing white dwarf plus main-sequence (WDMS) binaries in the light curves of the Catalina surveys. We use a colour selected list of almost 2000 candidate WDMS systems from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, specifically designed to identify WDMS systems with cool white dwarfs and/or early M type main-sequence stars. We identify a total of 17 eclipsing systems, 14 of which are new discoveries. Read More

Variations of eclipse arrival times have recently been detected in several post common envelope binaries consisting of a white dwarf and a main sequence companion star. The generally favoured explanation for these timing variations is the gravitational pull of one or more circumbinary substellar objects periodically moving the center of mass of the host binary. Using the new extreme-AO instrument SPHERE, we image the prototype eclipsing post-common envelope binary V471 Tau in search of the brown dwarf that is believed to be responsible for variations in its eclipse arrival times. Read More

We present simultaneous multi-color optical photometry using ULTRACAM of the transiting exoplanet KIC 12557548 b (also known as KIC 1255 b). This reveals, for the first time, the color dependence of the transit depth. Our g and z transits are similar in shape to the average Kepler short-cadence profile, and constitute the highest-quality extant coverage of individual transits. Read More

We present the first results of a dedicated search for pulsating white dwarfs (WDs) in detached white dwarf plus main-sequence binaries. Candidate systems were selected from a catalogue of WD+MS binaries, based on the surface gravities and effective temperatures of the WDs. We observed a total of 26 systems using ULTRACAM mounted on ESO's 3. Read More

We report on a pilot study of a novel observing technique, defocussed transmission spectroscopy, and its application to the study of exoplanet atmospheres using ground-based platforms. Similar to defocussed photometry, defocussed transmission spectroscopy has an added advantage over normal spectroscopy in that it reduces systematic errors due to flat-fielding, PSF variations, slit-jaw imperfections and other effects associated with ground-based observations. For one of the planetary systems studied, WASP-12b, we report a tentative detection of additional Na absorption of 0. Read More

Affiliations: 1Warwick, 2Warwick, 3Warwick, 4LMJU, 5Sheffield, 6NARIT, 7Sheffield, 8Valparaiso, 9NARIT

We present new eclipse observations of the polar (i.e. semi-detached magnetic white dwarf + M-dwarf binary) HU Aqr, and mid-egress times for each eclipse, which continue to be observed increasingly early. Read More

We present high time resolution SDSS-$g'$ and SDSS-$z'$ light curves of the primary eclipse in SDSS J141126.20+200911.1, together with time-resolved X-Shooter spectroscopy and near-infrared $JHK_{s}$ photometry. Read More

ULTRASPEC is a high-speed imaging photometer mounted permanently at one of the Nasmyth focii of the 2.4-m Thai National Telescope (TNT) on Doi Inthanon, Thailand's highest mountain. ULTRASPEC employs a 1024x1024 pixel frame-transfer, electron-multiplying CCD (EMCCD) in conjunction with re-imaging optics to image a field of 7. Read More

The recently inaugurated 2.4\,m Thai National Telescope (TNT) is equipped, among other instruments, with the ULTRASPEC low-noise, frame-transfer EMCCD camera. At the end of its first official observing season, we report on the use of this facility to record high time resolution imaging using small detector subarrays with sampling as fast as several $10^2$\,Hz. Read More

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, we detail the first abundance analysis enabled by far-ultraviolet spectroscopy of a low-mass (~0.19 Msun) white dwarf (WD), GALEX J1717+6757, which is in a 5.9-hr binary with a fainter, more-massive companion. Read More

We present Roche tomograms of the K4V secondary star in the cataclysmic variable AE Aqr, reconstructed from two datasets taken 9 days apart, and measure the differential rotation of the stellar surface. The tomograms show many large, cool starspots, including a large high-latitude spot and a prominent appendage down the trailing hemisphere. We find two distinct bands of spots around 22$^{\circ}$ and 43$^{\circ}$ latitude, and estimate a spot coverage of 15. Read More

The star 1SWASP J162842.31+101416.7 (WASP 1628+10) is one of several EL CVn-type stars recently identified using the WASP database, i. Read More

We present high-speed, three-colour photometry of the eclipsing dwarf nova KIS J192748.53+444724.5 which is located in the Kepler field. Read More

Secondary stars in cataclysmic variables (CVs) follow a well defined period-density relation. Thus, canonical donor stars in CVs are generally low-mass stars of spectral type M. However, several CVs have been observed containing secondary stars which are too hot for their inferred masses. Read More

Affiliations: 1Queens University Belfast, UK, 2Queens University Belfast, UK, 3University of Sheffield, UK

We accurately determine the fundamental system parameters of the neutron-star X-ray transient Cen X-4 solely using phase-resolved high-resolution UVES spectroscopy. We first determine the radial-velocity curve of the secondary star and then model the shape of the phase-resolved absorption line profiles using an X-ray binary model. The model computes the exact rotationally broadened phase-resolved spectrum and does not depend on assumptions about the rotation profile, limb-darkening coefficients and the effects of contamination from an accretion disk. Read More