Observational High Energy Astrophysics

Physics and astronomy are disciplines primarily driven by experiments and observations. The main research topics of our group is about observational studies of the fundamental physics involved in accreting black holes (BHs) and neutron stars (NSs) as well as in explosive or powerful transient events, making use of astronomical facilities in space and on the ground.

The group is led by Prof./Dr. Wenfei Yu, who worked as a postdoc in the world-leading Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy of the University of Amsterdam and in the Center for Theoretical Astrophysics in the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after he obtained his Ph.D in particle physics in 1998 from the Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Even before, he obtained his MSc in theoretical astrophysics on black hole accretion theory. His group therefore has obtained unique research experience covering many aspects of high energy astrophysics and mutl-wavelength astronomy, i.e., observations, theory and instrumentation. While the group have access to a wide range of space or ground facilities through either competition or collaboration, the group are currently active members in the Scientific Working Groups (SWGs) of several planned international missions or proposed facilities, such as eXTP (China-EU joint X-ray timing mission), Sino-French GRB mission (SVOM), and the International Square Kilometer Array (SKA). Dr. Wenfei Yu was also holding a FAST Fellowship in 2017.

News or events

The eRosita's deepest view of the X-ray sky

Fantastic eRosita's images

2020 August 4-16:

Coordinated Swift and FAST observations of a newly localized FRB

2020 July 21:

Successful precise localization of a Fast Radio Burst (FRB) with the VLA, a great effort achieved from collaborations !

2020 June 12:

Continuing our contribution to the MeerkAT/ThunderKAT collaboration - MeerKAT detection of the transient Galactic black hole transient Swift J1842.5-1124, see our Zhang et al. 2020, ATEL #13802. We were able to make the first detection of the Galactic blackhole transient in the radio band to date at about 208 micro Jy/beam.

2020 June 5:

MeerKAT and Swift/XRT observations of the transient Galactic black hole candidate Swift J1842.5-1124: Non-detection in the radio band with an upper limit of 80 micro Jy/beam. See ATEL 13784 (Zhang et al. 2020)

2020 May 22 - 28:

A VLA DDT program of a radio transient approved

Swift/XRT/UVOT simultaneous observations performed on a radio transient discovered by FAST.

2020 May 18:

Science for the planned Sino-EU collaborative X-ray mission eXTP "Dense Matter with eXTP" (Watts, Yu, et al. 2019) has got the 2019 excellent paper award of Science China - Physics, Mechanics, & Astronomy. Congratulations to colleagues who contributed in the science working group on ultra-dense matter.

2020 May 4:

FAST detection of a highly polarized radio burst from SGR 1935+2154 - while no FRBs were detected, we detected a radio burst from the magnetar ! See our report as ATEL #13699 (W. Yu 's affilliation should be --> SHAO).

2020 May 2:

FAST non-detection of fast radio bursts from SGR J1935+2154 - the first report from the FAST key science project on FRBs. See our report ATEL # 13697

2020 Apr 15:

An investigation of long-duration type I bursts - superbursts and intermediate bursts in the hard X-ray band, has just been submitted - see Lin & Yu 2020 preprint. This work followed our initial discovery of the 2018 long burst in a NS LMXB. Special thanks to Jean Int'Zand for suggestions, comments, and hospitality.

2020 Feb 15:

有关Fast Radio Burst (FRB) 科学问题的研究建议入选FAST优先和重大项目内容,并进入观测实施期。

2020 Feb 13:

MeerKAT radio non-detection of the black hole transient V4641Sgr - see our report (Zhang et al. 2020, ATEL# 13471)

2020 Jan 17:

VLBA DDT observation of AT2019qiz - performed !

2020 Jan 2:

The Chinese SKA science documents: - we organized/coordinated the team work on radio transients

SKA 科学报告Scientific Probe of Radio Transients

2019 Dec. 15:

A 6 hour VLBA DDT observation of the nearest TDE AT2019qiz approved !

2019 Dec. 13:

Collaborative JCMT large project PITCH-BLACK on black holes has just been accepted ! The project is a joint effort of more than 30 astronomers across the globe on black hole transients.

2019 Oct. 1 - Dec. 18:

Confirmation of AT2019qiz in the rise of its radio emission (O'Brien, Kaplan, Murphy, Yu and Zhang 2019) ATEL #13334)

First detection of the nearest TDE - AT2019qiz in the radio with ACTA ! Joint effort from colleagues in Australia, US and Shanghai. See O'Brien, Kaplan, Murphy, Yu and Zhang 2019 ATEL #13310

Continuing monitoring of the candidate tidal disruption event AT2019qiz found in the rise, see also (Zhang et al. ATEL #13146; Zhang et al. ATEL #13193)

Link to observations taken

2019 Nov. 4-5:

HXMT ToO observations of a new BH candidate MAXI J0637-430

2019 Oct. 8 - Nov. 10:

Tracing the decay of MAX J1807+132 on a weekly cadence

X-ray flaring variability: Rapisarda et al. 2019 ATEL #13173

Link to observations

2019 September 28:

The first report from our group in the ThunderKAT collaboration - congratulations to Xian Zhang !

MeerKAT observations of MAXI J1807+132: non detection with upper limits at the ~ 100 uJy level (Zhang et al. ATEL #13142)

Discovery of quasi-periodic oscillation feature in MAXI J1807+132 with NICER from our group (Rapisarda et al. 2019, ATEL #13139)

2019 September 26:

Swift daily monitoring campaign of a tidal disruption event in the early rising phase AT2019qiz started !

2019 September 18:

Our first paper on Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) "A search for short-term hard X-ray bursts in the direction of the repeating FRB 121102" has been accepted for publication in ApJ (Sun, Yu et al. 2019), available as arXiv:1909.07626. The study made use of the BAT on board the multi-wavelength space mission Swift.

2019 September 16:

The first NICER ToO observations (on the X-ray transient MAXI J1807+132) proposed from our group: congratulations to Stefano !

2019 September 8-13:

Multi-wavelength campaign on the X-ray transient MAXI J1807+132 in the ThunderKAT collaboration started. The X-ray transient MAXI J1807+132 was found in 2017 and now it undergoes its second outburst in history.

2019 August 26:

A heavyweight paper on relativistic astrophysics in tidal disruption events has just been accepted for the publication in ApJ

2019 July 16:

GRID is a student CubSats project led by Tsinghua Univ. to monitor the transient gamma-ray sky in the multi-messenger astronomy era. The first paper of the collaboration has just been accepted to publish in Experimental Astronomy.

2019 June 25:

Our collaboration with the Prague Relativistic Astrophysics group on the eXTP science on general relativistic effects is awarded grants from both countries - 中国-捷克科技合作委员会第43届例会人员交流项目获批(全国总共17个跨学科项目)。

2019 June 21:

Graduation ! Dr. Jie Lin is going for a postdoc in Tsinghua Univ., and MSc Miss Yuanming Wang is going to take a Ph.D fellowship to continue in the University of Sydney.

2019 June 18:

Progress of the China-EU Space eXTP mission: Science News 新闻

2019 June 18:

Insight-HXMT (慧眼卫星) has just released the HXMT AO-2 Guest Observer Program. Five proposals on black hole and neutron stars are accepted from our group ! Congratulations !

2019 June 1st:

MWA is one of the precursors of the SKA in Australia. It is a multi-million dollar international low-frequency telescope in Australia's Midwest. We just set up a research project on microquasars in the MWA collaboration.

Scientific Objectives

We focus more on the physics might be learned from signals from the very vicinities of black holes and neutron stars:

Research Highlights in 2017-2019

Research Projects

Multi-wavelength monitoring, X-ray timing and spectral analysis, and space or ground Target-of-Opportunity observations are widely used in our daily research. Here below are some of our primary research projects:

Current Funded Projects

Our research projects are supported by the following major PI grants:

Current Group Members

Visiting scientists and students:

Previous postdocs:

Contact address

Dr. Wenfei Yu

Shanghai Astronomical Observatory

80 Nandan Road

Shanghai 200030, China

E-mail: wenfei @shao.ac.cn

[ version updated: 2020.5.1 wenfei @shao.ac.cn ]