Former PhD Student's Thesis Wins International Award
(27 October 2011)
A former Durham University PhD student in the Department of Physics has won a prestigious international award for her PhD thesis.
Dr Jeanette Gladstone won the dissertation prize from the High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society for her thesis "Optical & X-ray studies of ultraluminous X-ray sources", written while working under the supervision of Dr Tim Roberts in the Extragalactic Astronomy & Cosmology group.
The thesis sheds new light on the nature of a mysterious class of X-ray sources, thought to harbour black holes that are devouring material from a companion star. It demonstrates for the first time that the extreme brightness of these objects at X-ray wavelengths is likely to be the result of relatively small black holes - perhaps 10 times more massive than our Sun, as opposed to the million times larger objects seen in the centres of many galaxies - that are feeding from their companion stars at unprecedentedly fast rates.
As a result of winning the prize, Dr Gladstone received a certificate, a cash award of $1000 and an invitation to give a 30-minute talk on her results at the semi-annual HEAD meeting in Newport, Rhode Island, USA in September this year.