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Mon 26th June – Team of Astronomers led by DIAS Astronomer Use Alma to Make the Most Detailed Image of Another Star that has Ever Been Produced

An international team of astronomers have used ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array), the world’s largest radio telescope, to make the most detailed image of the surface of a star (other than our Sun) that has ever been created at radio wavelengths. The image was taken of Betelgeuse, the famous Red Supergiant located in the constellation Orion, and remarkably reveals that the temperature in its inner atmosphere is far from uniform. The discovery could help explain how the atmospheres of these stars are heated and how material from these stars is transported to the interstellar medium.

“ALMA now provides us with the capabilities to image surface features on nearby stars while also directly measuring the temperature of these features” explains Dr. Eamon O’Gorman, an Irish Research Council Fellow and Astronomer at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, who led the team. “We have known for decades that the visible surface of Betelgeuse is not uniform, but ALMA has now shown in beautiful detail that the temperature in its inner atmosphere is also not uniform. It looks like these temperature fluctuations could be caused by magnetic fields, similar to what we see on the Sun, our nearest star.” The team’s results have recently been published in the journal ‘Astronomy & Astrophysics’.


In terms of size, Betelgeuse is enormous, being about 1400 times larger than our Sun, and more than one billion times larger in terms of volume. As stars like Betelgeuse evolve, they expel an enormous amount of themselves back into the interstellar medium via stellar winds.  These winds contain crucial heavy elements that the stars have manufactured and are vital ingredients for the next generation of stars and planets.

“Located about 650 light years away, Betelgeuse is certainly not the closest star to our solar system, but its sheer size makes it an ideal target to image directly with ALMA”, says Dr. Pierre Kervella, astronomer at the Paris Observatory and member of the team, he continued, “When we look at the night sky with our naked eyes, we see bright stars everywhere, but because they are so small, even the most powerful telescopes in the world struggle to image their surfaces. Our results show ALMA has the capability to image the surfaces of the largest stars in detail.”

Consisting of 66 gigantic 12-metre and 7-metre antennas, ALMA is the most powerful radio telescope in the word. The telescopes can separate over distances of 16 kilometres, giving ALMA an extraordinarily powerful “zoom”. ALMA is an international astronomy facility located at 5000 metres altitude at Chajnantor in northern Chile, at one of the driest sites in the world. ALMA is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile and is the world’s largest astronomy project.

Image 1:

The new ALMA image of Betelgeuse. The overplotted circles allow the size of Betelgeuse to be compared to the size of the orbits of the planets in our solar system.

(Credit: ESO/ALMA/P. Kervella)

Image 2:

ALMA on the Chajnantor Plateau, located at an altitude of 5000 meters in the Chilean Andes. ALMA consists of 66 individual antennas  which combine their signals together and can be separated by distances of up 16 kilometres.

Credit: Clem & Adri Bacri-Normier (wingsforscience.com)/ESO

Thursday 6th July: STP Seminar – “Quantum engineering using magnetic fields: Quantum Magnetomechanics”

Title: Quantum engineering using magnetic fields: Quantum Magnetomechanics

Speaker: Jason Twamley (Macquarie University, Sydney)

Abstract: Optomechanics – the control and manipulation of mesocopic objects towards the quantum regime, has attracted much attention. The use of light however, brings with it several problems, scattering noise being just one. In this talk we introduce a new approach to control the quantum motion of mescoscopic objects using magnetic fields. We describe our proposal to levitate and cool superconducting objects using magnetic fields and superconducting quantum circuits, how such levitated objects can be used for high precision gravimetry, specific experimental designs for ultra-strong and deep strong coupling using magnetomechanics and how one can engineer spin squeezing and spin Cats using magnetomechanics.

Time: Thursday 6th July 2017, 2.30pm.

Place: Lecture Room, School of Theoretical Physics, DIAS, 10 Burlington Road, Dublin 4.

16 – 18 June 2017 : Solarfest 2017 at Dunsink Observatory

Solarfest will take place at Dunsink Observatory, Castleknock, Dublin 15 on the 16th, 17th and 18th of June. Organised by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS), Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies (IFAS), Meath Astronomy Group and the TCD Solar Group, this annual event is a celebration of solar astronomy for professional and amateur astronomers, as well as the general public.

The free event consists of a public open evening on Friday 16th June, an all-day public event on Saturday 17th June and an afternoon family event on Sunday 18th June. The events include talks by enthusiastic astronomers, access to/tours of the observatory, and solar observing if the weather permits.

Solarfest is a fun way to find out more about the Sun and its place among the other stars, as well as its crucial importance to Earth.  Dr. Jonathan Mackey, an astrophysics research fellow in DIAS and one of the main organisers of Solarfest, comments: “The Sun is our nearest star, and our understanding of all other stars is based on how much we know about the Sun. Observations and models of the Sun and its wind are important for developing theoretical models of the atmosphere and surface conditions on planets that are being discovered around other stars.”

Michael O’Connell, amateur astronomer from IFAS says, “Solarfest provides an excellent opportunity for Ireland’s finest scientists to come together with amateur astronomers and the general public to share their latest research in solar astronomy in the relaxed setting of Dunsink Observatory. Events such as Solarfest play a crucial role in promoting Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) and ensuring the next generation can explore and discover fulfilling careers here in Ireland.”

Find out more, and book free tickets at https://www.dunsink.dias.ie/solarfest/

For further information contact:

  • Jonathan Mackey at 087 176 0756 or by email at jmackey@cp.dias.ie
  • Hilary O’Donnell/Sullivan at 087 629 4966 (Official Dunsink Obs. phone number, available at any time) or by email at hod@cp.dias.ie

Further Particulars on Senior Professor – Astronomy & Astrophysics


The position of Senior Professor and Head of Astronomy & Astrophysics will become vacant in the School of Cosmic Physics in June 2018 upon the retirement of Professor Luke Drury. The Governing Board of the School has set up a Search Committee to find a scientist of vision to develop and lead the research programme of the School. This document provides general information for prospective candidates about the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) and more specifically about the School of Cosmic Physics and its activities as well as information on the general conditions attaching to the appointment.


DIAS was established by statute in 1940 to promote pure research and to train advanced students. The immediate model was the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton from which the concept of a number of semi-autonomous schools was taken.  Currently there are three Schools: The School of Celtic Studies, the School of Cosmic Physics and the School of Theoretical Physics.   DIAS is funded by and reports directly to the Department of Education and Skills.

The mission of DIAS is to foster a community committed to independent critical enquiry that enables researchers to achieve their fullest potential. It is committed to creating, preserving and communicating knowledge; mentoring and developing young researchers in an environment of excellence; and enhancing scientific, cultural and economic life locally, nationally and internationally.

The Council of DIAS, its body corporate, is responsible for the general governance of the Institute. The Council consists of a Chairman appointed by the President, on the advice of Government, three ex-officio members – the Provost of Trinity College Dublin, the President of University College Dublin and the President of the Royal Irish Academy – and six members appointed by the Governing Boards of the three Schools.

Each School has an independent Governing Board responsible for the research programme and academic staffing of the School.  The President, on the advice of Government, appoints the Chairman and a number of external members. The Senior Professors of the School are ex-officio members of the Board.  The Board appoints one of the senior professors as Director of the School for a term of three years.  Each school is required to deliver an annual report on its activities and to offer one public lecture per year but is otherwise free to pursue its research and training mandate as it sees fit.

DIAS is financed by an annual grant from the Department of Education and Skills.  It also generates additional income, principally from participation in projects. The grant received from the Department in 2016 was €6.256m.  The additional income generated was €2.093m.  DIAS currently employs 69 staff.  In addition there are 16 scholars, a mix of pre-doctoral and postdoctoral level.


The School currently has two sections: Geophysics and Astronomy & Astrophysics.  The Astronomy & Astrophysics section is located at 31 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2; the Geophysics section is based nearby at 5 Merrion Square. The central administration and the other two Schools of DIAS are located a short distance away at 10 Burlington Road, Dublin 4.  DIAS is currently seeking to co-locate the Schools on a single site.

The Mission of the School is to: promote the use of Physics in increasing our knowledge and understanding of the world around us by:

  • being a leading international centre for studies of the Earth and the Universe;
  • providing a focus within Ireland for these areas of research;
  • facilitating Irish involvement in relevant international programmes;
  • providing specialised advanced training;
  • and by publishing and publicising advances in Cosmic Physics

The functions and duties of the School are laid down in the School Establishment Order : http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/1947/sro/77/made/en/print

The School, and DIAS as a whole, enjoys excellent relations with the local universities and cooperation at all levels is actively encouraged. Such cooperation includes shared seminars, the joint supervision of graduate students and the provision of specialist lecture courses as well as collaborative research projects. Building such collaborative research networks is seen as an important part of the School’s function.


Research in the Astronomy and Astrophysics section is currently in two main areas, high-energy astrophysics and star formation.  In high-energy astrophysics the school has a long tradition of work on the origin of cosmic rays and related questions of particle acceleration and astroparticlephysics. It is a member of the HESS consortium operating a system of imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes in Namibia.  In star formation there is a strong group working on young stellar objects and their associated outflow phenomena with an increasing interest in exoplanet formation.  Recently this has been complemented by an interest in high-mass and evolved stars and their environments.  The section is a partner in the MIRI instrument for the JWST, the Irish node of LOFAR, the GRAVITY instrument on the VLT and is in the process of joining the SPIROU instrument on the CFHT. The section is also involved in the development of MKID detector technology.


The current staffing structure of the Astronomy & Astrophysics section is as follows:

1 Senior Professor

2 Professors

1 Schrödinger Fellow

8 Post-docs (externally funded)

6 Scholars (DIAS-internally and externally funded)

2 Technicians


The section was instrumental in setting up the Irish Centre for High-End Computing and maintains close links to it.  Currently the section owns two “condominium shares” on the Irish supercomputer Fionn which are at the disposal of the section for routine calculations and development work; larger projects can apply for time through the national time allocation process and ICHEC also supports applications to the Tier-0 and Tier-1 facilities of PRACE, the European partnership for advanced computing.  As noted above the section is a parent in the Irish node of LOFAR as well as many other international consortia.  Ireland is a full member of the European Space Agency and thus has access to the mandatory science programme of ESA as well as the optional PRODEX programme.



Senior Professors are appointed by the President on the advice of the Government. A recommendation from the Governing Board for the appointment of a named person to be a Senior Professor is submitted to the Minister for Education and Skills who brings the matter to Government for consideration.

A Senior Professor must devote his/her time and ability to the furtherance of the work assigned to the School by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies Act 1940 and the School Establishment Order and he/she shall perform any duties assigned to him/her by the Governing Board of the School or the Director of the School as appropriate to his office. Except in so far as may be otherwise permitted by the Council of DIAS, with the consent of the Governing Board of the School, contributions to learning which result from study or research carried on by the Senior Professor shall be the property of the School. Professional work outside the School may only be undertaken with the prior consent of the Governing Board of the School given after consultation with the Minister for Education and Skills.


The current remuneration attaching to the position is €150,212 (personal pension contribution scale); €142,702 (Standard scale).


Superannuation and Retirement Age

Pension terms and retirement age conditions will depend on the status of the successful appointee.  In general:

(a) An appointee who has no prior pensionable public service history in the 26 weeks prior to appointment will be a member of the Single Public Service Pension Scheme (Single Scheme) which commenced from 1 January 2013 (Section 10 of the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and Other Provisions) Act 2012 refers).   Details of the scheme are available at: http://www.per.gov.ie/single-scheme.   The present retirement age under this scheme is set at 66 years but this will rise in step with statutory changes in the State Pension Contributory (SPC) age to 67 years in 2021 and 68 years in 2028.  Retirement is compulsory upon reaching 70 years of age.

(b) An appointee who was a member of a “pre-existing public service pension scheme” as construed by the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and Other Provisions) Act 2012 and who does not qualify for membership of the Single Scheme will have appropriate pension terms under the DIAS Staff Superannuation Scheme (details available from the Registrar’s Office). The retirement age conditions will depend on whether the individual is a 2004 new entrant or non-new entrant for the purposes of the Public Service Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004.  In the case of an individual who is deemed to be a 2004 new entrant, there is currently no specified maximum retirement age.  The minimum age at which pension is payable is 65.    In the case of an individual who is deemed to be a non-new entrant, retirement is compulsory on reaching 65 years of age.  The minimum age at which pension is payable is 60.

The minimum service to achieve pensionability is two years. Deductions in accordance with the scheme rules will be made from commencement date.

At the time of being offered an appointment, DIAS will, in the light of the appointee’s previous  Public Service (and/or other) employment history, determine the appropriate pension terms and conditions to apply for the duration of the appointment. Appointees will be required to disclose their full public service history. Details of the appropriate superannuation provisions will be provided upon determination of appointee’s status.

It should be noted there is a 40-year limit on total service that can be counted towards pension where a person has been a member of more than one existing public service pension scheme. This 40-year limit, which is provided for in the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and other Provisions) Act 2012 came into effect on 28 July 2012. This may have implications for any appointee who has acquired pension rights in a previous public service employment.


The full cost of transferring ordinary household effects will be paid on the basis that three quotations will be sought by the appointee and transmitted directly by the removal companies to the DIAS’s Finance section.    The decision with regard to which quotation is accepted rests with the Finance Office.


The nomination for appointment as Senior Professor will be subject to receipt of a satisfactory medical report.


Interested scientists should send an e-mail application to registrarsoffice@admin.dias.ie. The application should comprise a single PDF attachment containing:

(1) The candidate’s standard academic CV.

(2) The candidate’s list of publications, including brief notes on the five most significant.

(3) The candidate’s research vision for Astronomy & Astrophysics within the School of Cosmic Physics (maximum 3 A4 pages).

(4) Optionally up to two further A4 pages containing any supplemental material the candidate wishes to add.

All applications received before close of business on 31 July 2017 will be acknowledged and considered by a Search Committee appointed by the Board of the School of Cosmic Physics.  The Search Committee may, at its absolute discretion, in addition consider late applications or candidates other than those who apply directly.  Shortlisted candidates will be requested to provide contact details of three academic referees.  It is planned to hold interviews in late September or early October.


Senior Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, School of Cosmic Physics

The Governing Board of the School of Cosmic Physics wishes to nominate an exceptional scientist for appointment by the President of Ireland to the position of Senior Professor in the School and Head of the Astronomy & Astrophysics Section.  The position will become available following the retirement of Professor Luke Drury in June 2018.

In addition to an established international research reputation, the person appointed will be a scientist of vision capable of motivating large national, European and international research projects over decadal timeframes.

The successful nominee will be expected to define and lead an innovative research programme in the Astronomy & Astrophysics section in the areas of Exoplanetary Systems and/or Sun-Earth Interactions, building on the section’s strengths in Star Formation and the Interstellar Medium.  Linking the new activities to work in the Geophysics Section of the School is desirable.   Other current areas of strength are High Energy Astrophysics, and the curating, mining, and knowledge extraction from large data sets.

This is a research position and carries no undergraduate teaching responsibilities.  Guest lecturing in higher education institutions is encouraged. Supervision of graduate students and mentoring of postdoctoral fellows is required.

The post is permanent and pensionable with an attaching salary of €150,212 (PPC scale) €142,702 (Standard scale).

Interested scientists are invited to apply by sending an e-mail application to registrarsoffice@admin.dias.ie. The application should comprise a single PDF attachment containing:

(1) The candidate’s standard academic CV.

(2) The candidate’s list of publications, including brief notes on the five most significant.

(3) The candidate’s research vision for the Astronomy & Astrophysics section within the School of Cosmic Physics (maximum 3 A4 pages).

(4) Optionally up to two further A4 pages containing any supplemental material the candidate wishes to add.

All applications received before close of business on 31 July 2017 will be acknowledged and considered by a Search Committee appointed by the Governing Board of the School of Cosmic Physics.  The Search Committee may, at its absolute discretion, in addition consider late applications or candidates other than those who apply directly.  Shortlisted candidates will be requested to provide contact details of three academic referees.  It is planned to hold interviews in September/ October 2017.


DIAS is an equal opportunities employer

Particulars of the Post

2017-06-02 – Agallamh le Blas ar BBC Raidió Uladh BBC Gaeilge T Blake interview

2nd of June 2017 – Interview for the BBC Radio Ulster – Thomas Blake, the Director of Observational Seismology at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies speaks about the strength of Irish earthquakes and their regularity.

Listen to this interview here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p054r7r3

The First meeting to promote research on massive stars and supernovae in Ireland was held in DIAS May 25-26

In 2016 a number of new Astronomy and Astrophysics research groups were set up in the ROI to study massive stars, their evolution, and explosion. Following on from this a series of meetings have been proposed linking these researchers to their NI colleagues at research centres for the evolution (Armagh Observatory), and explosion (Queens University Belfast) of stars. These meetings will enable knowledge exchange, build collaborations, and help group leaders to develop complementary themes of research. They will also strengthen and focus Horizon 2020 applications being developed by young researchers. They will strengthen North-South collaboration in education and public engagement.

These Meetings are funded by the Irish Research Council’s New Foundations programme to promote research on massive stars and supernovae in Ireland, North and South.

The first meeting was  held at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, on 25-26 May 2017





Invited Speakers

Dr Robert Izzard presenting his talk on Evolution and Disssolution of massive binary stars.

Dr Sylvia Ekström
Stellar Evolution : recent results, challenges and future advances

Dr Takashi Moriya
Connecting supernovae with their progenoitors: progress and open questions

Dr Ben Davies
Red Supergiants in the local universe, and determining the mass on SN progenitors.

Monday 29 May 2017 – DIAS Press Release on Eucharia Meehan’s appointment as Registrar and CEO of DIAS and admittance to RIA

Dr Eucharia Meehan pictured with Prof. Peter Kennedy (President of the RIA)

Dr. Eucharia Meehan has been appointed as Registrar and CEO of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS), the internationally-renowned institute for world-leading basic research and scholarship.

Dr. Meehan previously held the position of Director of the Irish Research Council, having been appointed as the inaugural leader of the organisation when it was established in 2012.

Commenting on her new role with DIAS, Dr. Meehan said: “It is a privilege to take up this appointment in an institution with such a strong international reputation for excellent work in the pursuit of new knowledge. Reflecting its roots and rich legacy, DIAS connects Ireland to international and indeed global research networks. From its inception to the present day, DIAS is a magnet for current and emerging research leaders in each of its specialised branches of knowledge.”

Professor Vincent Cunnane Chairman of DIAS said: “We are delighted to welcome an individual of such high calibre to DIAS. Eucharia has an outstanding leadership record and, importantly, has been a consistent advocate for the funding of basic research in Ireland.”

Dr. Eucharia Meehan with Prof. Dervilla Donnelly (Chair of Friends of DIAS and former Chairman of DIAS Council)

In addition to starting her new role at DIAS, Dr. Meehan was admitted as a member of the Royal Irish Academy in recent days.  She is among 18 individuals to achieve the distinction of being admitted as a member in 2017. Membership is attained by election and is considered the highest academic honour on the island of Ireland.

l-r : Prof. Liam Breatnach (DIAS School of Celtic Studies), Dr. Eucharia Meehan, Prof. Tom Ray (DIAS School of Cosmic Physics)

Dr. Meehan received this honour on foot of more than 20 years of leadership across a range of public and private research-based organisations. Prior to her role with the Irish Research Council, she was Head of Research and Innovation at the Higher Education Authority, and directed the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI), which invested €1.2bn over a decade to create the strategic research infrastructure that became the bedrock for Irish research, particularly in the higher education sector.

Further information about DIAS is available at www.dias.ie.


Contact: Martina Quinn / Emily Brennan, Alice PR & Events, Email: media@alicepr.com, Tel: 01-5582151 / 087-6522033 / 086-1658629.


About DIAS

DIAS was established in 1940 by Taoiseach Éamon de Valera. It combines humanistic and scientific disciplines in three schools: Theoretical Physics, Celtic Studies and Cosmic Physics. The Nobel Prize winner Erwin Schrödinger was the first Director of the School of Theoretical Physics. Areas of research interest include Celtic manuscripts and texts, Celtic languages and linguistics, geological phenomenon, star formation, cosmic astrophysics, astro-particle physics, quantum information theory and condensed matter theory.

In addition to the conduct of research, DIAS mentors and trains early-stage researchers, and provides opportunities for engagement with projects and experts at the highest level. DIAS is also an academic publisher of monographs, books, and journals in Celtic Studies and on advanced scientific subjects. It conducts a range of public outreach activities, including open evenings at its Observatory in Dunsink and an extensive school programme in seismology which involves in excess of 55 schools.

Thursday 18 May 2017 – Appointment of New Registrar at DIAS

Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Eucharia Meehan to the position of Registrar following the retirement of Cecil Keaveney.

Dr Meehan has more than 20 years of leadership experience across a range of public and private research based organisations.

Prior to joining DIAS, Dr Meehan was the inaugural Director of the Irish Research Council, the latter being established in 2012 through the  merger of two former councils (the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology). Most recently in that role Eucharia spearheaded the national #LoveIrishResearch communication campaign and successfully instigated the new Irish Research Council Laureate Awards. The latter will fund internationally competitive frontier research across all disciplines.

Prior to her role at the Irish Research Council, Dr Meehan was Head of Research and Innovation (policy and investment) at the Higher Education Authority (HEA). This latter role encompassed Director of the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI) which invested €1.2bn  of public and private funds to develop strategic research infrastructure and capacity. She was also for a time Head of Capital Investment for the university sector.

Before joining the HEA in 2001, Dr Meehan was Head of Programme Management at Elan Biotechnology Research (EBR). In this role she had responsibility for sites and joint ventures in Ireland, Israel and the USA. Dr Meehan holds a PhD in Pharmacology (Neuropharmacology) from NUIG, in addition to a number of postgraduate management, accounting and finance qualifications from TCD and the ACCA.

Andrea Licciardi wins outstanding Student presentation at EGU 2017

During the Geodynamics division meeting at the 2017 EGU general assembly, that took place in Vienna on April 25, DIAS former PhD-student, Andrea Licciardi has been awarded with the Outstanding Student Presentation and Pico (OSPP award). Andrea presented new evidence about crustal anisotropy along the North-Anatolian Fault system obtained using passive seismic observations. This study is a joint collaboration between DIAS, GFZ and Istanbul Technical University. His poster was titled: “Crustal anisotropy along the North Anatolian Fault Zone from receiver functions”