Mike Lau


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I am a PhD student at the Monash Centre for Astrophysics (MoCA), Monash University, hoping to further our understanding of the life and death of binary stars. I am a proud member of the COMPAS research team, which is a collaborative effort to study isolated binary evolution through rapid population synthesis of massive binary stars. I am also a member of OzGrav. You are invited to check out my research interests.

Why care about binaries?

“But that sunset! I’ve never seen anything like it in my wildest dreams…the two suns! It was like mountains of fire boiling into space…We only ever had the one Sun at home.” – Arthur Dent, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Since the dawn of civilisation, the night sky has intrigued humans with its wealth of weird, unexplained phenomena. For many of these phenomena, our best theories and models invoke interactions between stars in a binary. Some of my favourites are type Ia supernovae, X-ray binaries, short gamma-ray bursts, tidal disruption events, luminous red novae, and, of course, gravitational waves from merging compact objects. Moreover, stars, much like humans, like having a companion—around 70% of observed stars are found to be in a binary system. The physics of binary (and higher multiplicity) stellar systems is therefore an extensive and vital research area.

Artist's impression of a double neutron star system. (Author: ESO/L. Calçada/M. Kornmesser)