My current interest is in the many facets of young stars and the planet formation that may occur around them. In particular, I am interested in the M-dwarf luminosity problem and it's effect on stellar ages and the stellar part of exoplanet climatology.
Throughout my masters project I worked as part of a team, under the supervision of Professor Tim Naylor, in the Astrophysics group at the University of Exeter. The research entailed studying interstellar dust grains and the way they interact with incident light. It's commonly noted in a plethora of publications on the topic that this effect is strongly dependent on the wavelength of the incident light. This correlation has the net effect of making observed colours of targets appear redder than they should when observing through dust. Due to the scattering and absorption effect of this dust the light that travels through it is also noticeably reduced in intensity. Our research has involved carefully studying this effect in order to develop mathematical models which describe the wavelength dependence adequately enough to remove its effect.
Why Dust is a Problem
Nearly everywhere you look within the Milky Way, our host galaxy, there are almost imperceptible dust grains. Because they've been well studied and we believe we understand them quite well, they pose little trouble for modern astrophysics. However, the problem comes in denser regions such as gas clouds. Due to the much cooler temperature, a result of the shielding effect of the cloud, it's thought that dust grains have a fundamentally different composition to their diffuse counterparts. This would suggest that existing theory pertaining to dust in the Interstellar Medium (ISM) would be inaccurate. This does indeed appear to be the case.
We should also consider that most current research interests in astrophysics are focusing on these denser regions. Fields such as star formation require un-reddened observations in order to conduct thorough investigations, and as of yet reliable methods to remove dust from these observations are sadly lacking. It's for both of these reasons that the research interest in this topic is of interest.