Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Astronomers - Simone Scaringi

Dr Adam Hill and Simon Scaringi

Simone Scaringi is a post graduate student at the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Southampton. He did his UG work in Maths and Astronomy, then an MPhil on Astronomical data mining with neural networks on Quasars observed from the Sloan and Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). (A Quasar is an extremely bright and distant active galactic nucleus, - a compact halo of material surrounding the central supermassive black hole of a young galaxy. A survey maps the sky using telescopes.)

Simone now writes decision-making algorithms in order to mine INTEGRAL data for the production of future survey catalogues (a list of all gamma-ray objects seen by INTEGRAL). (Simone works with the MATRIX!). His algorithms are created from data taken from INTEGRAL from the beginning of the mission in 2002 and will be applied to the next data set gathered for the production of a new catalogue. This algorithm gets 'trained' in a similar fashion to a simplified artificial brain (neural network) to recognise real INTEGRAL sources. Because of the dynamic gamma-ray sky he is also interested in transient detection techniques.

Once his algorithm has figured out whether data from INTEGRAL real - or caused by noise - the data can then be used to classify the nature of the source. For example; AGN, X-Ray binaries, Supernova remnants, magnetic cataclysmic variables - when a star orbits a white dwarf and emits multi-wavelength radiation and even gamma-ray bursts!

Every 18 months the amount of astronomical data gathered doubles and there is increasing interest in new techniques to reduce the amount of time taken to analyse all this data. Simone's hoping to apply his algorithms to other wavelengths - and even to multi-wavelength analysis to help astronomers unlock all the information that they are gathering.

Simone is supervising a group of students on the Design in Gamma Ray Astronomy course run by the School of Physics and Astronomy in the University of Tenerife, La Laguna. His group say of him ,

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