Department of Physics
Associate Professor Philip Yock
BSc, MSc (Auckland), PhD (MIT), FRASNZ, MNZM
Building 303, Room 719
Phone: +64 9 373 7599 ext 88867
Elementary particle physics
Despite its widespread use, the Standard Model of particle physics raises conceptual questions of naturalness, is not free of inconsistencies with observations, and includes unproven conjectures. To a skeptical eye, the model appears surprisingly complicated. In addition, the Higgs boson has not been found. Higgsless models of particles are therefore being studied, including models of electro-strong interactions. Hadron production in high-energy photon-photon interactions provides a natural testing ground for these models. Experimental means for realising such interactions at the LHC are being explored, including plasma-wakefield and Weizsacker-Williams techniques.
Since the first planet was discovered orbiting a star other than the Sun in 1995, many “exoplanets” have been found. Some are similar to planets in our solar system, others are distinctly different. Some orbit red or brown dwarfs, others are composed largely of carbon or diamond, and still others are roaming freely between stars in the galaxy. Several were found from New Zealand by a NZ/Japan collaboration known as “MOA” using a gravitational microlensing technique conceived by Einstein. MOA uses the world’s largest telescope dedicated to gravitational microlensing, and a suite of more than twenty telescopes around the globe for follow-up observations. Future plans include yet more telescopes and a space mission for the next decade.
Gamma ray bursts are being observed from New Zealand in collaboration with a Spanish group known as BOOTES. Gamma ray bursts are cosmic explosions thought to involve massive, first-generations stars in the early universe, or more recent mergers of black holes and neutrons stars. Prospects for carrying out astronomical observations from Dome A and Dome C in Antarctica are also being investigated.
"The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living." Henri Poincaré.
- "MOA -2009-BLG-387Lb : a massive planet orbiting an M dwarf", with V. Batista et al, A&A 529, A102 (2011)
- "Unbound or distant planetary mass population detected by gravitational microlensing", with T. Sumi et al, Nature 473, 349-352 (2011)
- “A sub-Saturn mass planet, MOA-2009-BLG-319Lb”, with N. Miyake et al, ApJ 728,120 (2011)
- “Determining the physical lens parameters of the binary gravitational microlensing event MOA-2009-BLG-016”, with K.H. Hwang et al, ApJ 717, 435-440 (2010)
- “Frequency of solar-like systems and of ice and gas giants beyond the snowline from high magnification microlensing events in 2005-2008”, with A. Gould et al, ApJ 720, 1073-1089 (2010)
- “Sub-Saturn mass planet MOA-2008-BLG-310Lb: Likely to be in the bulge”, with J. Janczek et al, ApJ 711, 731-743 (2010)
- “20-20 Vision”, Nature Network, Jan 2010
- “Plasma wakefield collider at the LHC?”, CERN Courier, June 2009, p32
- “Census of exoplanets in orbits beyond 0.5 AU via space-based microlensing”, with David Bennett et al, White paper to the Astro-2010 PSF Science Frontier Panel, arXiv:0902.3000
- “Science case for PILOT III: The nearby Universe”, with J. Lawrence et al, PASA 26, 415-438 (2009)
- “Extreme microlensing event OGLE-2007-BLG-224: Terrestrial parallax observations of a thick disc brown dwarf”, with A. Gould et al, ApJL 698, L147-L151 (2009)
- “Gamma-gamma interaction: Critical test of the Standard Model”, invited paper 2008 Solvay conference, Int. J Mod. Phys. A24, 3276-3285 (2009)
- “High magnification events by MOA in 2007”, Proc. Manchester Microlensing Conf., eds. E. Kerins et al, Po5(GMC8)002(2008), arXiv:0805.1775
- “Low-mass planet with a possible sub-stellar-mass host in microlensing event MOA-2007-BLG-192”, with D. Bennett et al, ApJ 684, 663-683 (2008)
- “Discovery of a Jupiter/Saturn analog with gravitational microlensing”, with B.S. Gaudi et al, Science 319, 927-930 (2008)
- “MOA-cam3: a widefield mosaic CCD camera for a gravitational microlensing survey from New Zealand”, with T. Sako et al, Exp. Astron. 22, 51066 (2008)