Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Queen’s astronomers ‘over the moon’ with £3m

18.06.2008
The future of Queen’s University Belfast's planet-finding SuperWASP project has been secured until 2011 following an announcement of £3 million in grants to the University’s Astrophysics Research Centre (ARC).

In April, Queen’s astronomers announced the discovery of ten new planets as a result of their Wide Area Search for Planets project known as SuperWASP. They are known as extrasolar planets, in orbit around other stars.

Using two new sets of cameras designed at Queen’s, SuperWASP watches for events known as transits. This is where a planet passes directly in front of a star and blocks out some of its light, so from the earth the star temporarily appears a little fainter.

The cameras, based on La Palma in the Canary Islands, work as robots, surveying a large area of the sky at once. Each night astronomers have data from millions of stars that they can check for transits. The transit method also allows scientists to deduce the size and mass of each planet.

Now, following a grant of £500,000 from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), SuperWASP will continue to operate until 2011.

Dr Don Pollacco of Queen’s ARC said: “SuperWASP is now a planet-finding production line and one of the most successful discovery instruments in the world. Seventeen exoplanets have been found in the last two years alone. It will revolutionise the detection of large planets and our understanding of how they were formed. It is a great triumph for European astronomers. I suppose you could say we are over the moon to have secured the future of such an important project for the next three years.”

A further £2.2 million, from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), will support a range of astronomical research programmes within ARC for the next five years.

These include studies of the Sun and other stars, the search for planets orbiting stars other than the Sun (the so-called exoplanets), investigations of supernovae (stars which end their lives in massive explosions), the detection and study of comets and asteroids, and the investigation of chemical processes in material from which stars form.

Professor Philip Dufton, Director of ARC, said: “These awards recognise the world-leading research programmes undertaken within ARC. They are particularly impressive given the current major financial squeeze on research grants from STFC. With this significant increase in funding, ARC will be able to take a leading role in several important international research initiatives in the years to come.”

An additional award of over £300,000 has also been made to Professor Francis Keenan, Head of the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s. From AWE Aldermaston, the award is a renewal of Professor Keenan’s William Penney Fellowship for the period 2008 to 2011. The Fellowship is focused on the study of plasmas in the laboratory which mimic those found in astronomy, but also involves publicising the importance of science and physics to schoolchildren and the public.

Further information on the ARC at Queen’s can be found by visiting http://star.pst.qub.ac.uk/

Lisa Mitchell | alfa
Further information:
http://star.pst.qub.ac.uk/
http://www.qub.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property
26.07.2017 | City College of New York

nachricht Large, distant comets more common than previously thought
26.07.2017 | University of Maryland

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property

26.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion

26.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Large-Mouthed Fish Was Top Predator After Mass Extinction

26.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>