About Me

I am a former high energy astrophysicist currently working as a Data Scientist in Canberra, Australia. My astrophysics expertise was in the area of X-ray astronomy, making me one of only a handful of X-ray astronomers in Australia. My research in general covered multi-wavelength studies of accrerting compact objects, chiefly utilising data from various space based X-ray observatories including XMM-Newton, Chandra, and Swift. My primary research was focussed on the search for the illusive class of intermediate mass black holes with masses between ~100 - 100,000 Solar masses. The bulk of my work involved multi-wavelength observations (using world class facilities including the Hubble, Gemini, VLT, JVLA, and ATCA telescopes) of the strongest candidate intermediate mass black hole HLX-1 in the galaxy ESO 243-49.

Other research projects that I led included hunting for new candidate intermediate mass black holes in dwarf galaxies (using archival X-ray data such as the 3XMM catalogue), searching for new hyper-luminous X-ray sources such as HLX-1 (through both targeted observing campaigns and data mining of catalogues), and understanding the nature of the class of ultra-luminous X-ray sources through population studies utilising multi-wavelength data. I was also involved with the planned VAST and EMU radio surveys using the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder telescope (ASKAP), was a member of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) consortium, and was an affiliate of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO).

I am currently a reformed astronomer having finished my last postdoctoral position at The University of Sydney in October 2014. Since then I have utilised my expertise in data mining and machine learning as a freelance Data Scientist. From 2011 - 2013 I held an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship at The University of Sydney, Australia. From 2009 - 2010 I was employed as a Catalogue Scientist for the XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre (SSC) at the University of Leicester, UK. From 2007 - 2008 I held a position as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre d'Etude Spatiale des Rayonnements (CESR) in Toulouse, France. I completed my PhD at the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy (UNSW@ADFA) in January 2007. I obtained Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering with Honours and Bachelor of Science (Physics) undergraduate degrees from the University of Newcastle, Australia, in 2000 and 2001 respectively.

Career Highlights

2012 - Awarded the ASA Louise Webster Prize for "outstanding research by an early career researcher".
2012 - Discovery of a jet ejection event from an intermediate mass black hole.
2009 - Discovery of the strongest candidate intermediate mass black hole ESO 243-49 HLX-1.
2007 - Assisited in the compilation of the second XMM-Newton serendipitous source catalogue.
2004 - Discovery of a 30.7 day super-orbital period in the high mass X-ray binary 2S 0114+650.

Contact Me

Email: s.farrell<at>physics.usyd.edu.au