Located in the island of Malta, Flarestar Observatory is a privately owned astronomical station that carries the IAU/MPC Observatory Code: 171. The core mission of this robotic observatory is to acquire accurate photometric data of variable stars and minor planets (asteroids). Observations and scientific results are either reported to recognized institutions or published through scientific papers where this data is made available to professional researchers.
Flarestar is also engaged in research programs aimed to investigate other celestial objects, including cataclysmic variable stars, microlensing events, and exoplanets. Observations gathered through observation runs are routinely sent to the appropriate institution such as the AAVSO, VSNET and to the Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA). such contributions provide the opportunity to routinely collaborate with professional and amateur observatories around the world through photometric campaigns.
Another field that Flarestar is engaged in, is the search for new variable stars where 11 previously unknown variable stars have been discovered. The first variable star was discovered on the night of 6th December 2015, where a new 16th magnitude eclipsing variable star was identified in the constellation of Perseus. A list of the discoveries made from Flarestar Observatory can be accessed through this link.
Flarestar Observatory is an active collaborator with the following entities:
The main instrument at Flarestar is a Meade 0.25-m aperture f/6.3 Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope (SCT) that is permanently housed in an automated run-off roof observatory. The telescope is mounted on a EQ8 PRO German equatorial mount where all equipment is controlled remotely.
The camera employed for scientific imaging is a Moravian G2-1600 scientific grade CCD camera. Further details of the equipment used can be found in the Observatory Page here.
Flarestar is operated and managed by Stephen M. Brincat, member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) [observer code: BSM] and Honorary Member of the Astronomical Society of Malta.
Hereunder is a representative list of participation either as a speaker or as a regular attendee.
- BAA AAVSO Variable Star Meeting, Warwick University, UK. July 2018. Regular attendee.
- The Astronomical Society of Malta, Exoplanet Observation, 27 Feb 2020 – Invited speaker.
- 11th OPTICON Gaia Science Alerts Workshop, 18-22 January 2021 - Invited speaker.
Observational Data in a nutshell (as at 2022 Apr. 25)
Discoveries and the latest authored and co-authored Publications
- Paper [Minor Planet Bulletin]: Collaborative Asteroid Photometry of Six Main-Belt Asteroids 
2022 March 23
Collaborative campaign and study on the IW Andromedae star: ASAS J071404+7004.3
In collaboration with Kyoto University (Japan) time-series photometric measurements were taken from our two observatories in Malta. Flarestar and Znith Observatories have helped in determining the actual classification of the cataclysmic variable ASAS J071404+7004.3. The results of our observational campaign have been published through the paper entitled, “Analysis of the IW And star ASAS J071404+7004.3”, by Prof. Taichi Kato et al., where Maltese observers Stephen M. Brincat and Charles Galdies appear as co-authors. In this research, evidence has been gathered that shows the star's outbursts from a standstill followed by shallow dips. This is a unique characteristic of an IW And star.
The paper can be retrieved through the link below through the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)
Maltese observers have gathered similar evidence for other stars with similar IW Andromedae characteristics. They have determined that the formerly classified cepheid-class star NSV 1586 should in fact be classified as UG-type dwarf novae that exhibits peculiar photometric features in its light curve to possibly pertain to the UGZ/IW sub-type variable star classification.
2022 March 09
Research Paper: Investigating the low-flux states in six Intermediate Polars
One of the latest scientific articles featuring Stephen M. Brincat and Charles Galdies (University of Malta) has recently been accepted as co-authors for publication by the renowned The Astrophysical Journal.
This multi-collaborative work by primary author Dr. Covington A. E. is entitled: Investigating the low-flux states in six Intermediate Polars.
Intermediate polars (IPs) are a subclass of cataclysmic variables in which a white dwarf accretes matter from a main sequence companion star. These types of stars are quite rare in the known universe. What is unique about them is that they consist of a binary orbiting star system, one of which is a white dwarf star with a magnetic field that significantly pushes out the inner accretion disk. This unique arrangement only allows material to fall down its magnetic poles. The white dwarf belonging to an IP is so close to the normal star that it strips away its outer atmosphere. As the white dwarf spins, the columns of infalling gas rotate with it.
An analysis of the timing of the light curves of IPS in both optical and X-ray wavelengths can reveal a lot about the dominant way of gas accretion within the system. This paper studies the temporal properties of V515 Andromedae, amongst other IP targets, and suggests that the observed decrease in optical flux is related to a transition between disk-fed, stream-fed and disk-overflow accretion geometries. This paper also publishes the timing analysis of 3 other IP targets – DW Cnc, V1223 Sgr and 1RXS J213344.1+510725.
Link to paper: Investigating the low-flux states in six Intermediate Polars - NASA/ADS (harvard.edu)
Latest Observational Campaigns
This section gives a brief overview of the research activities at Flarestar. This usually involves the acquisition of photometric observations for publishing or to disseminate to appropriate institutions for further analysis or publication. Visit the 'Latest observations' page to know more.
Flarestar's Light Pollution Survey
Scientific Publications by Flarestar Observatory
A light pollution survey conducted at the observatory's site shows that light pollution is significant at low elevations over the south-eastern horizon. However, despite this setback useful scientific data could still be obtained... Click Here to know more.
Click here to find out all about the scientific publications produced by Flarestar Observatory. Almost all of the publications are hosted on the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System server. Click Here to access Flarestar's publications or click on the ORCiD logo to access the ORCiD database.