I study the physics of star formation, in particular the processes by which new planetary systems form in cold clouds of molecular gas in interstellar space. How such new stars and planetary systems come into being is a central area of research in modern astrophysics, both because we need to know this to understand how galaxies evolve, but also because the origin of our own solar system is of particular interest to us.
It has in the last few decades become possible to study the chemical and physical structure of these collapsing gas clouds using telescopes that operate at far-infrared and millimetre wavelengths. I make imaging and spectroscopic observations of protostars using radio observatories such as the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii and the Atacama Large millimetre Array (ALMA) in Chile. Typically these observations reveal the rotational emission of small molecules, and the thermal continuum emission from interstellar dust grains. I study in particular the earliest phases of star formation and the associated protostellar jets. I am actively involved in the development of major observatories including the JCMT in Hawaii, and the ALMA Observatory in Chile.
Nikolic, B., Bolton, R. C., Graves, S. F., Hills, R. E., & Richer, J. S. (2013).
"Phase correction for ALMA with 183 GHz water vapour radiometers. "
Astronomy and Astrophysics, 552, 104.
Walker-Smith, S. L., Richer, J. S., Buckle, J. V., Smith, R. J.,Greaves, J. S., & Bonnell, I. A.
"The structure and kinematics of dense gas in NGC 2068. " Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 429, 3252
Buckle, J. V., Richer, J. S., & Davis, C. J. "The structure of molecular gas associated with NGC 2264: wide-field 12CO and H2 imaging. " Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 423, 1127
Curtis, E. I., & Richer, J. S. (2011). "A submillimetre survey of the kinematics of the Perseus molecular cloud - III. Clump kinematics." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 410, 75
Buckle, J. V., Hills, R. E., Smith, H., Dent, W. R. F., Bell, G., Curtis, E. I., ... Zijlstra, T. (2009).
"HARP/ACSIS: a submillimetre spectral imaging system on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope."
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 399, 1026