Physics and Astronomy Blog: Summer Digest

With the start of the new academic year upon us, the Physics Community team would like to remind you about the School blog, a key resource for sharing news, celebrating successes, and circulating announcements to the entire Physics and Astronomy community.

Submitting News Stories

Anyone is welcome to submit blog posts to the editor – it’s as simple as sending an email – there are no strong requirements on length, 1-3 paragraphs with an image would be perfect. We’d love to hear news of your research activities, awards and recognition, mission/project milestones – anything relevant to our School. You can easily share content that you’ve already produced, such as articles written for other websites, podcasts/radio shows, and video clips. And you’re welcome to share announcements of meetings, seminars, and public engagement events. The sky’s the limit, and the best articles will be compiled into our annual yearbook.

Summer Digest

Here are a few of the posts you might have missed since the spring.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is now fully operational and providing new discoveries – you can read about its first images of the Large Magellanic Cloud; how Dr. Tuomo Tikkanen was involved in the commissioning phases of the observatory; Dr. Naomi Rowe-Gurney‘s experiences of working with NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center on the mission; the unveiling of the first images at Space Park Leicester in July and Prof. Martin Barstow’s blog on what the first images show; and the first glimpses of Jupiter from JWST. Dr. Henrik Melin, our JWST Fellow, has been working to share the excitement about JWST at the National Space Centre, including a presentation at their regular Space Lates events.

You can read about Dr. Suzie Imber’s experiences working on NASA’s Endurance mission as part of the British Antarctic Survey, launching a sounding rocket to study processes in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Dr. Gillian Butcher led a session on diversity for the centenary of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP). Dr. Michael Roman led a long-term study of Neptune’s atmosphere which revealed an unexpected cooling trend over the last two decades, and dramatic changes at its summertime pole. Leicester hosted back-to-back meetings in high-energy astrophysics in May, exploring new results in X-ray astronomy and looking ahead to the Athena mission. Astronomers celebrated an enormous data release from the Gaia observatory, more than doubling the number of binary star systems. Funding was announced in July for the Gravitational-wave Optical Transient Observer (GOTO), a facility to look for the optical sources of gravitational waves that involves several members of our Astrophysics group. And Prof. Paul O’Brien writes about the first wide-field X-ray images of the sky taken in August by a Chinese precursor mission ahead of the Einstein Probe, scheduled for launch in 2023.

Closer to home, images of land surface temperature released by the National Centre for Earth Observation at Space Park Leicester revealed the extent of drought-affected areas as a result of the UK heatwave. Our undergraduate students have been deeply involved in our research through their projects – the School hosted 11 undergraduate interns as part of the SURE programme this year, and their final presentations in August spanned a huge range of our research portfolio. At the end of the summer term, Megan Perks was awarded the Graduating Student of the Year award by the Alumni Association, and three members of the School were celebrated as inspirational women as part of our Centenary celebrations.

Looking ahead, there is still time to enjoy the activities of the British Science Festival, being held across Leicester – congratulations to representatives of the SMILE, JWST and space research communities that have been involved in this national event so far. And the next two weeks feature Centenary Inaugural Lectures from Prof. Simon Vaughan and Prof. Leigh Fletcher, tickets can be booked via these links.

We look forward to welcoming new members of the Physics and Astronomy community when term begins, both our undergraduates and the large number (16!) of new PhD students funded by the Centenary and UKRI studentship schemes.

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