Stargazing evening with Queen Mary astronomers: 4 April

To mark Global Astronomy Month, and following on from the BBC's Stargazing Live TV programmes, the School of Physics and Astronomy is holding an evening of astronomical entertainment at the Mile End campus on Tuesday 4 April. Talks, exhibits and, weather permitting, a chance to view the skies through our telescopes on the lawn. Further details can be found here.

Ancient stardust sheds light on the first stars

Astronomer Dr David Quénard of the School of Physics and Astronomy is one of the authors of a research paper, published on 8 March in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, that reports the discovery of an unexpectedly large amount of interstellar dust in a very distant galaxy. The galaxy, known as A2744_YD4, is seen only 600 million years after the Big Bang and is the most distant galaxy in which dust has been detected. The presence of the dust tells us that even at this early stage, the first giant stars had lived out their lives, exploding as supernovae and ejecting the dust into the interstellar space around them. For the full story, see here.

Image credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), NASA, ESA, ESO and D. Coe (STScI)/J. Merten (Heidelberg/Bologna)

PsiStar students in visit at CERN

QMUL PsiStar students in visit at CERN

On Monday February 20, a delegation of PsiStar students have visited CERN and its facilities. They visited the first synchrocyclotron built at CERN in 1954 and then they went underground to visit the cathedral-size CMS and ATLAS experiments, taking data at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Professor Sir Peter Mansfield (1933-2017)

It is sad to announce the recent passing of Professor Sir Peter Mansfield, who studied Physics at Queen Mary College, graduating in 1959 before moving to Nottingham University. Professor Mansfield made several key contributions in the the field of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, leading to the development of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for medical applications. Together with Paul Lauterbur of the University of Illinois he shared the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. 

Space Sounds Inspire Film Competition

Filmmakers will have the chance to use real-life sound recorded from space in a new competition launched by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

While the trailer for the movie Alien may have told us: “In space, no one can hear you scream” recordings of sounds from space by satellites seem to suggest otherwise. These unusual noises recorded over eight years have been sped up and amplified so they can be heard by the human ear for the first time. The recordings are free to download for filmmakers to use – and potentially win £2,000 worth of prizes.

QMUL launches Research in Schools report

There is a growing number of projects across the UK giving the opportunity for school students to run their own research projects. Ever wondered how the projects come together? Are you a researcher or teacher and thought about running such a project?

Physicists at Queen Mary University of London, have been running Research in Schools projects over the last two years. Through this time they have come across different challenges in setting up and running said projects. In this report Dr Martin Archer looks back and highlights what has worked and what didn’t come together from these projects. These along with the report’s conclusions and recommendations make it essential reading for those looking to set-up similar projects.

Farewell to Peggy

Before the Cassini spacecraft makes its final plunge into Saturn's atmosphere in September this year, one of its last acts will be to take a photo of an intriguing object that Professor Carl Murray of the School of Physics and Astronomy has been studying for nearly four years.

Nicknamed "Peggy" after Prof. Murray's mother-in-law, since it was first noticed on her birthday in 2013, the object appears as a small smudge of light at the very edge of Saturn's main ring system, the A-ring. The smudge is actually a cloud of dust particles some 2000 km long that is being disturbed by the presence of Peggy itself, thought to be a solid object less than 5 km across. The dust may well be the result of a collision between Peggy and another object in the ring.

Twenty-fifth anniversary of the discovery of the first exoplanet

Twenty-five years ago today, on 9 January 1992, astronomers published the first unambiguous discovery of an exoplanet — a planet beyond our Solar System. Since then the search for, and study of, exoplanets has become an exciting and productive branch of astronomy, one in which researchers in Queen Mary's School of Physics and Astronomy are actively engaged.

Unusually, this first exoplanet was not found in orbit around a 'conventional' star; instead it orbits an object known as a pulsar, a very exotic object left over after a star much bigger than the Sun has undergone a massive explosion — a supernova — at the end of its life.

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