Institute of Astronomy

Dr Elme Breedt Lategan


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Office: Hoyle H34
Office Tel: (01223) 766096
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I am interested in accreting compact objects across the mass spectrum, from white dwarfs (Cataclysmic Variable Stars; CVs) to black holes (Active Galactic Nuclei; AGN).

My research is focused on the time-domain variability of these systems and what it implies for their structure and geometry. I also use large scale surveys to identify large samples of cataclysmic variables, which we use to understand how binary stars evolve. At the moment, I am using Gaia Alerts to identify and follow up on these accreting white dwarfs.

The European Space Agency's Gaia satellite is measuring the distances to a billion stars in our Galaxy, essentially creating a 3D map of the Milky Way. Gaia will scan the sky repeatedly over its 5 year lifetime, giving multiple observations of the same stars. This will allow us to identify many new variable stars, among which we expect hundreds of Cataclysmic Variables. Some of these will be bright enough to be observed with small telescopes, so if you have a telescope equipped with a CCD camera, you can get involved! If you are interested in contributing your observations, please get in touch via email. You can also follow this link to learn more about Gaia and the UK's contribution to the project.




I completed my undergraduate and honours studies at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, then moved to the University of the Free State for my M.Sc. studies as part of the South African National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP). I was fortunate to be awarded a SALT Scholarship to complete my Ph.D. studies at the University of Southampton, UK, after which I moved to the University of Warwick for postdoctoral work.  I am now part of the Gaia Alerts team here at the Institute of Astronomy.

Page last updated: 3 July 2017 at 13:56