2017-11-16, 3pm, Dr. Christian Schneider (Hamburger Sternwarte), X-rays and the hot side of star formation

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2017-11-15, 3pm, Dr. Morgan Fraser (University College Dublin), The golden age of transient astronomy

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Photos from DIAS School of Cosmic Physics Statutory Public Lecture 2017 (19th October 2017)

“Brave new worlds: the planets in our galaxy” by Professor Giovanna Tinetti, University College London  (abstract)

Prof. Giovanna Tinetti (Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University College London)

l-r : Prof. Gerry Wrixon (Chairman, Governing Board of the School of Cosmic Physics, DIAS) Prof. Giovanna Tinetti (Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University College London) Dr Eucharia Meehan (Registrar and CEO of DIAS)

l-r: Prof. Gerry Wrixon (Chairman, Governing Board of the School of Cosmic Physics, DIAS), Dr Eucharia Meehan (Registrar and CEO of DIAS), Prof. Chris Bean (Head of the Geophysics Section, School of Cosmic Physics, DIAS), Prof. Giovanna Tinetti (Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University College London), Prof. Luke Drury (Director of the School of Cosmic Physics, DIAS and Head of the Astronomy & Astrophysics Section), Dr Deirdre Coffey (Lecturer/Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Space Science at UCD School of Physics), Prof. Martin Grünewald (Professor of Experimental Physics and Head of the UCD School of Physics)

RTE documentary on LOFAR – Thursday 19th October

Tonight RTE 1 screens a documentary on how Ireland built part the largest radio telescope in the World. LOFAR (The Low-Frequency Array) is an international effort to study the Universe at the lowest radio frequencies, straddling either side of the familiar VHF band. Historical resonances abound in that the radio telescope is on the same site as the famous Leviathan of Parsonstown, once the largest optical telescope in the World. Amazingly there is so little radio interference nearby, that it is the radio equivalent of a pristine site high in the Andes when it comes to seeing the stars!

DIAS is a partner in LOFAR and will use it to study the birth of stars and planets. We will also contribute to the complex software required to operate such a telescope across the European continent with our international partners.

The LOFAR Telescope in Birr, County Offaly. DIAS is part of the Irish consortium that constructed it and we will use it to study how stars like our Sun are born and also how they die.

Ireland to Join the European Southern Observatory

DIAS welcomes the wonderful news that Ireland will join the European Southern Observatory (ESO). It means Irish astronomers will now have access to world-class observing facilities and Irish companies will be involved in building the biggest telescope on the Planet (shown below), the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). ESO membership has been a major objective of DIAS for many years. We look forward not only to pushing the boundaries of the known Universe with our ESO partners but also building the cutting-edge instruments that make such research possible.

Further reaction and information can be had from the Astronomical Science Group of Ireland (ASGI) website.

The E-ELT will the biggest telescope in the World when completed. Situated high in the Andes in Chile, it will probe the early history of the Universe, discover how stars and planets form, examine the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, and a myriad of other puzzles in Astrophysics. Image courtesy of ESO.

Dunsink Observatory Public Open Night – Maths Week 2017

Speaker: Dr Samuel Kováčik, Government of Ireland Post-Doctoral Fellow funded by the Irish Research Council and based in the School of Theoretical Physics, DIAS.

Title of Talk: Sir Hamilton and the story of making things up   (Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865))

Date : Wednesday 18th October 2017 at Dunsink Observatory

Advance booking for this talk is required here

Samuel Kovacik bio: Born in Bratislava (Slovakia), where he Graduated in Theoretical Physics, from Comenius University Bratislava, 2012.
He was then awarded a Ph.D. in Theoretical physics, from Comenius University Bratislava, 2016. This was followed by a Postdoctoral scholarship in DIAS from 2016.
He now holds a Government of Ireland Post-doctoral Fellowship position awarded by the Irish Research Council. Samuel is interested in the Research of Quantum Space(time) and he was honoured by the opportunity to give a TEDx talk in 2015. He spends some part of his free time on sports and the other on popularising science.

CTA Public Event in Dunsink Observatory

Public Open Night Wednesday October 11th

Two talks on the Cherenkov Telescope Array. Gates open at 7:00 pm

Book here

Dr Masha Chernyakova:

New frontiers in science with the Cherenkov Telescope Array.

Abstract: The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), will be the Major Global Observatory for very High Energy Gamma-Ray Astronomy over the next decade and beyond. The scientific potential of CTA is extremely broad: from understanding the role of Relativistic Cosmic Particles to the search for Dark Matter. CTA is an explorer of the extreme universe, probing environments from the immediate neighbourhood of Black Holes to Cosmic Voids on the largest scales. In my talk I will overview the most exiting discoveries that CTA should be able to do.

Prof. John Quinn

The Cherenkov Telescope Array: Instrumentation for Exploring the Very High Energy Universe

Abstract: The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) is a next-generation astronomical facility, currently in the design and prototyping phase, for exploring the Very High Energy (VHE) gamma-ray Universe. The energy range covered by CTA will be from 20 GeV to 300 TeV, allowing for the study of nature’s most powerful particle accelerators, associated with black holes, neutron stars and supernova remnants,
in unprecedented detail (for comparison, the LHC at CERN accelerates protons to energies up to 14 TeV). CTA is being developed by a global consortium of scientists and will have two observatories, one in the northern hemisphere on La Palma in the Canary Islands, and the other in the southern hemisphere at ESO’s Paranal site in Chile. Gamma-ray telescopes are usually placed on satellites in space to get above the Earth’s atmosphere, but CTA will actually use the atmosphere to detect gamma rays via the faint flashes of blue Cherenkov light that are produced when gamma rays are destroyed through interactions with air molecules. In this talk an overview will be given of the CTA telescopes and how they work, and the significant role Irish scientists played in developing this exciting young branch of astronomy will be highlighted.

Annual Hamilton Walk – 16th October 2017

The Annual Hamilton Walk, in association with the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Maynooth University, will take place during Maths Week Ireland on Monday 16th October starting from Dunsink Observatory. Advance Booking is essential for this event. More information including booking details can be found here.


dunsink_houseThe walk commemorates Sir William Rowan Hamilton’s famous creation of a strange new number system, called Quaternions, on the banks of the Royal Canal in Dublin on October 16, 1843. Quaternions now play a fundamental role in computer games and animation, special effects in movies, space navigation, physics, engineering and many other areas. The walk will retrace Hamilton’s steps from Dunsink Observatory to Broom Bridge in Cabra where he had his Eureka moment.


Hamilton performed a piece of mathematical graffiti by scratching his quaternion formulas on the canal bridge. In an act of mathematical vandalism, Hamilton opened up a whole new mathematical landscape where mathematicians could now feel free to conceive new algebraic number systems that were not shackled by the rules of ordinary numbers in arithmetic. Hamilton freed algebra from arithmetic and he was called the Liberator of Algebra.

Photo of MIRI Group Meeting – September 2017

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is due for launch in 2018 and DIAS convened the team working on one of its major instruments MIRI in Dublin (13th to 15th September) to finalize their plans for using the biggest telescope ever put into space. DIAS helped build some of JWST’s hardware and is now developing software to analyze its data.

DIAS Scholar wins 2017 Earnshaw Medal

Congratulations to Anton Feeney-Johansson on being awarded the Earnshaw medal for best undergraduate physics thesis in Ireland for 2017.

Anton carried out his undergraduate project at the school of Cosmic Physics in DIAS and was mentored by Irish Research Council scholar Dr. Eamon O’Gorman. Anton’s work focused on measuring the temperature of the atmosphere of the famous red supergiant, Antares. To do this he used data from the Very Large Array in New Mexico, which is one of the most powerful radio telescopes in the world. Anton is due to start his PhD in radio astrophysics at DIAS in September 2017 and we’re looking forward to have him on board.

The Very Large Array radio telescope in New Mexico