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DIAS Professor announced as next President of the European Southern Observatory’s Council

The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) is today (07.12.23) welcoming the announcement of Tom Ray, Senior Professor and Director of Cosmic Physics at DIAS, as the next president of the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) main governing body, the Council.

Commenting on his appointment, Prof. Ray said: “I am delighted to be elected as President of the European Southern Observatory Council. ESO leads the world in ground-based astronomy, and the next few years will bring exciting developments – the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) takes shape in the Andes, and European technical know-how will be pushed to its limits, eventually resulting in us having the capability of imaging and analysing Earth-sized planets around other stars, and resolving the earliest known structures in our Universe.

“ESO is also expanding its capabilities at millimetre wavelengths in the Atacama Desert and helping to construct the largest gamma ray observatory ever built. One of my main priorities as president will be to ensure all of these goals are met, with the help and cooperation of member states, including Ireland. The Observatory demonstrates very clearly what Europe can do when it works together. I am honoured that the member states have chosen me to fulfil this very important role.”

Ray joined DIAS as a professor in 1986, where he continues his research on star and planet formation today. He is also Co-Principal Investigator for the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) – one of four instruments on board the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

Prof. Ray has represented Ireland on the ESO Council since it became a member in 2018, and has also served on ESO’s Observing Programme Committee. He has also been a member of several international committees, including the Council of the Royal Irish Academy. He began his career in radio astronomy at Jodrell Bank, UK, and received his PhD from the University of Manchester in 1981.

Welcoming the announcement today, Dr. Eucharia Meehan, CEO and Registrar of DIAS said: “The appointment of Prof. Ray as president to the ESO Council is fantastic news, not just for him personally, and for DIAS, but also for the space research community in Ireland. Tom is a highly accomplished astronomer, who has had a distinguished career to date. I have no doubt that he will continue to propel Ireland, and indeed Europe, to the forefront of space research, in his role as president.”