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Research at St Andrews

Andrew Collier Cameron


Andrew Collier Cameron, FRSE
Postal address:
School of Physics & Astronomy
Physical Science Building
North Haugh
St Andrews
United Kingdom


Web address:

Direct phone: +44 (0)1334 463147

Research overview

Andrew Cameron is Professor of Astronomy at St Andrews. His research is in stellar magnetic fields and the discovery and characterisation of extrasolar planets.

In his early career, he focused on the rotational history and dynamo-generated magnetic activity of cool stars, ultimately producing micro-arcsecond resolution maps of starspot distributions and surface magnetic fields. With Dr R. D. Robinson he co-discovered the centrifugally supported "slingshot prominence" systems in the coronae of the young, rapidly rotating solar-type star AB Doradus and other similar objects.

Planet formation appears to be a natural consequence of the star formation process: 2800 planetary systems comprising nearly 4000 planets are currently known to orbit stars other than the Sun. Studying the architectures of extra-solar planetary systems is revolutionising our understanding of our own solar system's formation and dynamical history.

Cameron was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2002, promoted to a personal chair in 2003 and  was awarded the George Darwin Lectureship of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2012. He served as Head of School from 2012 to 2015. He is a founding Co-I of the WASP project, which won the 2010 RAS Group Achievement award for its discoveries. The WASP collaboration includes several UK universities, and has discovered more than 170 gas-giant planets in close orbits about their host stars, using an array of wide-field CCD cameras. WASP detects the dips in light that occur as planets pass between the observer and the host star. Their masses are determined, and their planetary nature confirmed, using optical spectroscopy to measure the reflex motion of the host star about its common centre of mass with the planet.

Space-based transit searches such as CoRoT and Kepler/K2 have produced many smaller planet candidates, down to Earth size. To determine their masses and compositions requires much finer radial-velocity precision, combined with an understanding of the effects of stellar activity on the apparent stellar radial velocity, which is often the dominant signal. Cameron is the UK Co-PI of the Geneva/PHYESTA/Harvard/INAF/Belfast HARPS-North spectrograph project,  and is combining high-precision radial-velocity measurements  with stellar activity characterisation to push the limits on planetary mass determination down towards the Earth-mass regime. He is a member of the Science Team for the Swiss-led ESA S-class CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite (CHEOPS; launch expected 2019), for which he leads the Working Group on data analysis.

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