NGC3949 :  Hubble Space Telescope image taken by S. Smartt (Credit : NASA/ESA, The Hubble Heritage Team STSCI/AURA)

my pic

 I am a professor in the Astrophysics Research Centre in the School of Maths and Physics at Queen's University Belfast.  I work on exploding stars and unusual transients in the Universe. My group run large sky survey projects such as Pan-STARRS and ATLAS  to scan the sky and find transients that stretch our understanding of how stars die. We showed that the first ever discovery of an electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave source (GW170817)  produced heavy radioactive elements  and was consistent with models of a kilonova from a pair of merging neutron stars (see  our paper here).  I was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society in 2020 and was awarded the Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal in the Physical and Mathematical Sciences in 2018.
I 've previously held an ERC Advanced grant  (2012 - 2017) for work on superluminous supernovae and the stars that produce them ( For highlights, visit my ERC project page here. )  As part of this project, I lead the Pan-STARRS Survey for Transients, which currently leads the world's supernova discoveries. PESSTO is a leading classification project - from the statistics on the IAU Transient Name Server site.

My group works on supernovae and the deaths of massive stars. We have leading roles in two large  international projects to study supernovae and the transient Universe.  We are partners in the Pan-STARRS project  and  I was PI and Survey Director of PESSTO, the Public ESO Spectroscopic Survey of Transient Objects.    and its successor ePESSTO.

I am a previous holder of a European Young Investigator (EURYI) Award and PPARC Advanced Fellowship and  held positions at  the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge and the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes on La Palma.  

For the last decade I have been searching for the progenitors core-collapse supernovae in images of galaxies taken before explosion, much like the one of NGC3949  shown above, that I took with the Hubble Space Telescope. The results of this work were published in Smartt, Eldridge, Crockett & Maund (2009, The death of massive stars I) and in Eldridge, Fraser, Smartt, Maund, Crockett (2013, The death of massive stars II). My review article on this topic for the Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 2009  be accessed here : "Progenitors of core-collapse supernovae", S.J. Smartt, 2009, ARA&A, 47, 63 . I have published an updated review here : Observational Constraints on the Progenitors of Core-collapse supernovae : The case for missing high mass stars, 2015, PASA, 32, 16

My publications (ADS link)