What's New at The Royal Observatory

ROEVisiting Professorship in Innovation

08 November 2017

Colin Cunningham has been awarded a Visiting Professorship in Innovation, Instrumentation and Systems Engineering by the Royal Academy of Engineering. It is based at the Scottish Microelectronics Centre in the School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh. He started a three year employment at the beginning of October, and will be working on it for about half a day a week, combined with his part-time role as Technology Champion at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

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ROEUKATC engineers behind the latest gravitational waves news

16 October 2017

News that for the first time scientists have directly detected both gravitational waves and light from the same event was made possible in part by engineers from the UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

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IFA LogoEdinburgh students star in film about Charles Piazzi Smyth

2nd October 2017

On Saturday 7th October, Edinburgh staff and students can be seen on-screen at the Edinburgh Filmhouse, in a f ilm which recounts the life of the famous astronomer Charles Piazzi Smyth, and re-creates his famous experiments of 1856.

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Astronomers release largest ever infrared sky survey

1st August 2017

An international team of astronomers, led by the Universities of Nottingham and Edinburgh, have released the largest ever map of the sky at infrared wavelengths, with over 1.5 million mega-pixels and containing nearly two billion stars and galaxies. It has already been used to find some of the most distant quasars known, and will be now be queried and analysed by astronomers all over the world.

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IFA LogoAlexander von Humboldt Foundation Award for Professor Annette Ferguson

10th March 2017

Professor Annette Ferguson has won a Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in recognition of her research into the histories of nearby galaxies.

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Gravitational Waves to Reveal Darkest Secret of our Universe

1st February 2017

Near the end of the last millennium, our Universe was discovered to be undergoing an accelerated expansion. The physics underlying this acceleration, however, remains one of the Cosmos's darkest secrets. It could be attributed to a new "Dark Energy" force that fills the Cosmos or the presence of the Cosmological Constant predicted by Einstein. But for the two decades since this discovery, there has also been the possibility the acceleration is due to a change in Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. In particular, high hopes were assigned to an extension by a new constituent of the Universe that shares similar properties to the Higgs field.

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Royal Astronomical Society award for Professor Catherine Heymans

16th January 2017

The Institute for Astronomy's Prof. Catherine Heymans has been awarded the 2017 George Darwin Lectureship by the Royal Astronomical Society. The Lecture is given annually, on a topic in astronomy, cosmology or astroparticle physics.

Catherine Heymans is a Professor of Astrophysics and European Research Council Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, based at the Institute for Astronomy.

Full text of the press release

ROE2017 Joseph Weber Award for Astronomical Instrumentation to Former ROE Staff Member Prof Ian S. McLean

13 January 2017

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has just announced the award of the 2017 Joseph Weber Award for Astronomical Instrumentation to Prof Ian S. McLean (University of California, Los Angeles). The award recognises more than 30 years at the forefront of the development of advanced infrared sensor arrays and for his leadership in the design, construction, and deployment of innovative infrared instruments that have had widespread and fundamental scientific impact across a broad community of astronomers.

More Details | AAS Award Details

IFA LogoImages of faraway galaxies shed new light on dark matter

7th December 2016

Dark matter, the elusive material that accounts for much of the Universe, is less dense and more smoothly distributed throughout space than previously thought, according to a new study co-led by astronomers at the University of Edinburgh. The international team of scientists studied wide-area images of the distant universe, taken from the European Southern Observatory in Chile. They applied a technique based on the bending of light by gravity - known as weak gravitational lensing - to map out the distribution of dark matter in the Universe today. Their study represents the largest area of the sky to be mapped using this technique to date.

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ROEMessages of hope embark on 400-year space journey

10 October 2016

Messages of hope and reflection from around the world will be beamed towards the North Star, Polaris, as part of an interstellar art project. More than 3700 messages from 146 countries and territories will be sent into space at the speed of light as a cosmic message in a bottle.

A Simple Response to an Elemental Message is developed in a collaboration involving the University of Edinburgh, ESA, the Royal Observatory of Edinburgh, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre, and the European Southern Observatory.

University of Edinburgh Release

IFA LogoAstronomers explore golden age of galaxies

22nd September 2016

An international team of astronomers, led by Edinburgh, has gained a new view of the evolution of distant galaxies.

Their study focuses on a region of the Universe previously studied using the deepest observations of the Hubble Space Telescope. The team has traced the previously unknown abundance of star-forming gas and dust over cosmic time. This provides new insights into what is known as the golden age of galaxy formation - approximately 10 billion years ago.

The new observations of a well-studied area of sky, known as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, were taken with the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array) telescope, located high in the Atacama Desert in Chile.

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Rosemary Wyse Awarded the 2016 Brouwer Award by the Division on Dynamical Astronomy of the AAS

29th May 2016

Professor Rosie Wyse, currently a Visiting Leverhulme Professor at the Institute for Astronomy, has been awarded the 2016 Brouwer Award by the Division on Dynamical Astronomy of the American Astronomical Society for her fundamental role in advancing our understanding of the structure, dynamics and formation history of the Milky Way and its satellite galaxies.

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UK ATCUK ATC at the SUPA annual gathering exhibition in Glasgow

25th May 2016

The UK ATC was present at the exhibition which forms part of the SUPA (Scotish Universities Physics Alliance) annual gathering that was held on Wednesday 25th 2016.

The UK ATC stand featured near-future projects such as MIRI including a model and prototype hardware and the E-ELT where a hologram was used to show the telescope design and scale. Also on display was an image slicer demonstration that is an up-scaled version of the slicers used in MIRI and other UK ATC built instruments. The demonstrator shows in a very direct and simple way and at a much larger scale how image slicers work.

SUPA comprises eight Scottish Universities (Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Heriot Watt, St Andrews, Strathclyde and UWS) which have come together to form a research alliance in Physics.

SUPA Annual Gathering 2016

ROEThe greatest movie ever made

19 May 2016

The World’s first motion picture of our Universe, being dubbed the ‘greatest movie ever made’, is to be produced by international astronomers.

The film, which could feature dangerous asteroids and uncover some of the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, will be recorded on a giant digital camera comprising 3.2 billion pixels.

It hasn’t been completed yet, but when it is, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will be the World’s largest digital camera. It will be able to take images of the sky that each cover over 40 times the area of the moon, building up a survey of the entire visible sky in just three nights.)

University of Edinburgh Release

STFC Release

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Professor James Dunlop becomes a Fellow of the Royal Society

29th April 2016

Congratulations to Prof. James Dunlop, who has been elected to a Fellowship of the Royal Society.

The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship made up of the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists from the UK and the Commonwealth. Fellows and Foreign Members are elected for life through a peer review process on the basis of excellence in science.

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UK ATCConstruction starts on Higgs Centre for Innovation

27th January 2016

Construction has today begun on the Higgs Centre for Innovation. The final designs for the building were also unveiled at a celebratory event at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, where the new centre will be housed.

The Higgs Centre for Innovation is named in honour of Professor Peter Higgs of the University of Edinburgh, who received the Nobel Prize for his prediction of the existence of the Higgs Boson which was discovered at CERN in 2012. The Centre will support start-up businesses with the aim of creating new market opportunities, especially in big data and space technologies. The Centre is funded through a £10.7 million investment from the UK Government. The Science and Technology Facilities Council will invest £2million over five years to operate the centre.

Full text of the press release

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Herschel Medal Award for Professor Jim Dunlop

8th January 2016

Prof Jim Dunlop of the School of Physics & Astronomy has been awarded the Royal Astronomical Societyʼs (RAS) Herschel Medal for his pioneering research into galaxy formation.

The Herschel Medal is awarded for investigations of outstanding merit in observational astrophysics.

The prize was announced at the January 2016 meeting of the RAS, and will be presented at the National Astronomy Meeting in June 2016. Previous winners of the Herschel Medal can be found at the link below:

Previous Herschel Medal Recipients

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