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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

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”


DIAS Research Forum 2017 – Wednesday 17th May


An inter-disciplinary research forum has been scheduled for Wednesday 17 May 2017, 3-5pm at Burlington Road. The forum is intended to be an informal event that provides post-doctoral scholars and PhD students with the opportunity to share and discuss their current research with scholars and staff from across the three schools of DIAS.

There will be no main speakers at the event. Instead, participants will be assigned a space where they can share and discuss their research interests. Participants are encouraged to present a poster which visually complements their research, and allows them to explain what they do to all DIAS staff. In instances where a poster presentation is not appropriate, participants should feel free to develop an alternative approach.

The forum presents a great opportunity for scholars to sharpen their academic presentation and public outreach skills in an informal setting, while also getting to know colleagues from across the Institute.

The organisers strongly encourage scholars from all three schools to participate in the forum. A coordinator from each section will liaise with participants regarding their presentations.

Participants are asked to register here prior to Friday 12 May.

Section Coordinators:
Celtic Studies - Eibhlín Nic Dhonncha eibhlin@celt.dias.ie
CP, Astrophysics - Eileen Flood eflood@cp.dias.ie & Anne Grace ag@cp.dias.ie
CP, Geophysics - Clare Horan choran@cp.dias.ie
Theoretical Physics - George Rogers grogers@stp.dias.ie
Please contact your section coordinator with any queries.

All DIAS staff are welcome to attend.


Friday 7th April : DIAS astronomer wins ERC Advanced Grant with SFI support – no EASY feat

Professor Tom Ray of the  Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) has been awarded one of the European Research Council’s (ERC) prestigious Advanced Grants to study the birth of stars and planets.  Tom  is an Irish astronomer whose work sheds light on what the Solar System would have looked like 5 billion years ago when it began to form. During this rather chaotic and turbulent period matter is not only gravitationally sucked onto a newborn star like the Sun but ejected as well in the form of highly supersonic jets that stretch for light-years.

His proposal, “Ejection Accretion Structures in Young Stellar Objects (YSOs)” with acronym EASY, aims to use the latest observing facilities, such as the James Webb Space Telescope, the European low frequency radio telescope LOFAR (with an Irish node funded by SFI currently under construction in Birr, County Offaly) and those of the European Southern Observatory, to improve our understanding of the complex processes involved. Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) awarded Prof Ray an ERC development grant and this was crucial in enabling him to obtain all the necessary international observatory agreements.

This round was highly competitive with only 9.6% of proposals being funded.  The grant of just under 2M Euro will support seven research positions in DIAS.

Speaking on behalf of DIAS Prof Luke Drury, Director of the School of Cosmic Physics, said “We are all delighted for Tom.  DIAS, like the ERC, is an organisation that believes in the pursuit of excellence and curiosity-driven research; this award is a vindication of that vision at the highest level”.

Graeme Horley, SFI Programme Manager and ERC National Contact Point said, “We are delighted that Tom has been successful in winning an ERC Advanced Grant. These awards are among the most highly sought after in Europe and are extremely difficult to win. We are particularly pleased that the support provided to Prof. Ray through our  ERC Development Programme has helped in this success. We congratulate Tom and look forward to learning about the exciting developments from this project over the coming years”.

For further information contact:

Prof Tom Ray, School of Cosmic Physics, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies,
e-Mail tr@cp.dias.ie
Phone 087 9062696

Dr Graeme Horley, Science Foundation Ireland,  ERC National contact point,
e-Mail graeme.horley@sfi.ie

ERC web site and list of awards: