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Don Pollacco

Research Interests

My primary research interests are within the field of extrasolar planets. I was responsible for the SuperWASP project in La Palma, which along with its sister facility at SAAO, has become the most successful ground based planet detection experiment, receiving the group achievement award from the Royal Astronomical Society in 2010. I am also a founder member of the Next Generation Transit Survey project: This concentrates the diversity between smaller planets, allowing for greater analysis and comparison between Neptune-like planets and Super-Earths.

Studing small planets around solar type stars is best done from space. There are two ESA missions with this goal. The first is the ESA S mission CHEOPS (launch 2017) is a swiss led satellite designed to followup known transiting planets (eg NGTS or TESS planets) and detect transiting planets amongst the RV detected systems. Further in the future we have ESA M mission PLATO (launch 2026) which is designed specifically to detect and characterise

habitable zone rocky planets. I am the science coordinator for PLATO. Transiting planets are the only objects we can measure accurate radii for, and hence density. This is used to compare directly with theoretical models of planet composition. PLATO will be capable of dedtecting planets with moons and rings etc.


My other research interests include Space Sitauation Awareness and specifically Space debris. Originally this interest started as just a use for our observatory but over the last couple years I have become interested in specific problems such as the nature of debris field at geostationary orbit. This material has profound implications for our telecom satellites etc.

I recently held a Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award.

Current PhD Students

Billy Shrive (3rd year), Morgan Mitchell (2st year).

Previous students include Matt Battley (Geneva), Ben Cooke (Warwick), James Blake (Warwick), Emma Foxell (EPSRC), Christine Lam (DLR), Jessica Spake, Hugh Osbourne (Berne), James McCormac (Warwick), Dave Armstrong (Warwick), Elaine Simpson, Liam O'Donnell, Neale Gibson (Trinity, Dublin), Ian Todd.

New SDA PhD Project: As the number of LEO satellites is undergoing a huge increase then the issue of debris in the near-Earth environment is becoming more important. Agencies (both commercial and governmental) are now looking to utilize the cis-lunar environment to reach a quieter environment. Currently, there are few spacecraft in cis-lunar orbits but this is likely to change significantly over the next few years. Observationally these are challenging orbits to monitor with optical equipment but, given their distance these observations maybe the most cost effective. We would like to start a study of how to optimize the monitoring of these orbits and the space traffic problem that will follow. This will involve observational work as well as simulations.


Publications and Citations

Current list of publications via ADS. A collection of my publications, including some of the most cited, and some of the more recent, is as follows:

Blake et al (2021) Advances in Space Research, Volume 67, Issue 1, p. 360-370. DebrisWatch I: A survey of faint geosynchronous debris

Cooke et al (2021) MNRAS 500, 5088, Resolving period aliases for TESS monotransits recovered during the extended mission

Battley et al (2020), MNRAS 496, 1197. A search for young exoplanets in sectors 1-5 of the TESS full-frame images

Cooke et al (2018), A&A 619, 175. Single site observations of TESS single transit detections

Talens et al (2017), A&A 606, 73. MASCARA-1b. A hot jupiter transiting a bright Mv=8.3 A-star in a misaligned orbit.

Osborn et al (2016) MNRAS 457, 2273, Single transit candidates from K2: detection and period estimation

Lam et al (2016) arXiv:1607.07859, From Dense Hot Jupiter to Low Density Neptune: The Discovery of WASP-127b, WASP-136b and WASP-138b

Armstrong et al (2015) A&A 582, 33, One of the closest exoplanet pairs to the 3:2 mean motion resonance: K2-19b and c

Motalebi et al (2015) A&A 584, 72, The HARPS-N Rocky Planet Search. I. HD 219134 b: A transiting rocky planet in a multi-planet system at 6.5 pc from the Sun

Armstrong et al (2014), MNRAS 444, 1873, On the abundance of circumbinary planets

Rauer et al (2014) Experimental Astron. 38, 249, The PLATO 2.0 mission

Triaud et al (2010), Spin-orbit angle measurements for six southern transiting planets. New insights into the dynamical origins of hot Jupiters, Astron and Astrophys

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

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

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

Write to:

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

Contact Details:

Office: F44 Milburn House
Tel: +44 (0)247 657 4329


All publications via ADS
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