Professor Julian Osborne

Emeritus Professor

School/Department: Physics & Astronomy School of



My career has been in space-based high-energy astrophysics. After my PhD work at MSSL I spent 7 years at ESA in Germany and the Netherlands working on their first X-ray satellite observatory EXOSAT. I came to Leicester in 1990 doing scientific research and data analysis system development for the X-ray satellites ROSAT GINGA and ASCA. I led the international development team for ESA’s XMM science data analysis system from before launch for ~15 years I then led the Leicester Swift science ground system. I led the Leicester involvement in the Chinese Einstein Probe mission up to adoption by ESA. I also led the development of the first Lobster X-ray optics for orbit delivered under contract from CNES for the Chinese-French mission SVOM. From 2019-2021 I was PI of the Leicester work on ESA’s ATHENA mission. During 2013-2021 I contributed to the Cherenkov Telescope Array with four years as a Consortium Board member. I was a member of the IRIS Delivery Board from 2018 to 2021. I was a member of the STFC advisory panel for particle astrophysics from 2014-2018. After being a member of STFC’s main funding assessment panel PPRP I was deputy chair and then chair from 2015 to 2019.


My research is on the high energy emission from accreting binary stars and gamma-ray bursts. Accreting white dwarfs show a huge variety of observational properties giving clues to the physics of their accretions disks their magnetic fields and on their interaction. More recently I have focussed on classical novae in which the white dwarf undergoes runaway thermonuclear burning after having accreted sufficient material to reach ignition pressure. X-rays from the ejecta shocks and the burning white dwarf can be used to diagnose the underlying binary system potentially leading to an understanding of the progenitors of the type Ia supernovae used to measure the acceleration of the Universe. The Swift satellite was the first built specifically to study gamma-ray bursts. It has revolutionised the field by locating thousands of bursts so that their redshift (distance) can be measured. Bursts from when the Universe was just 3-4% of its current age have been found constraining its evolution from the Big Bang. A spectacular highlight was the discovery in 2017 of the first ever electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave promising a great future for this field.


2004 ApJ 611 1005
cited: 2808
The Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission
Gehrels, N.; Chincarini, G.; Giommi, P. and 68 more

2017 ApJ 848L 12
cited: 1983
Multi-messenger Observations of a Binary Neutron Star Merger
Abbott, B. P.; Abbott, R.; Abbott, T. D. and 3674 more

2005 SSRv 120 165
cited: 1866
The Swift X-Ray Telescope
Burrows, David N.; Hill, J. E.; Nousek, J. A. and 21 more

2009 MNRAS 397 1177
cited: 1032
Methods and results of an automatic analysis of a complete sample of Swift-XRT observations of GRBs
Evans, P. A.; Beardmore, A. P.; Page, K. L. and 22 more

2006 PASP 118 1407
cited: 902
The WASP Project and the SuperWASP Cameras
Pollacco, D. L.; Skillen, I.; Collier Cameron, A. and 25 more

2006 ApJ 642 389
cited: 751
Evidence for a Canonical Gamma-Ray Burst Afterglow Light Curve in the Swift XRT Data
Nousek, J. A.; Kouveliotou, C.; Grupe, D. and 25 more

2011 ExpAstr 32 193
cited: 732
Design concepts for the Cherenkov Telescope Array CTA: an advanced facility for ground-based high-energy gamma-ray astronomy
Actis, M.; Agnetta, G.; Aharonian, F. and 669 more

2006 Nature 442 1008
cited: 650
The association of GRB 060218 with a supernova and the evolution of the shock wave
Campana, S.; Mangano, V.; Blustin, A. J. and 36 more

2010 ApJ 716 30
cited: 610
The Spectral Energy Distribution of Fermi Bright Blazars
Abdo, A. A.; Ackermann, M.; Agudo, I. and 254 more

2017 Nature 551 85
cited: 570
A gravitational-wave standard siren measurement of the Hubble constant
Abbott, B. P.; Abbott, R.; Abbott, T. D. and 1311 more


I no longer provide supervision.


I no longer teach but I have recently been lecturing in foundation year Electricity and Magnetism and in 2nd year Stellar Astrophysics. I have also supervised 3rd & 4th year project students and PhD students.

Press and media

High-energy observatories; gamma-ray bursts; novae; cataclysmic variables

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