Exoplanet discovery

The recent discovery of a new exoplanet provides further evidence that cold Neptune-like bodies may not be that uncommon. The new exoplanet is called MOA-2009-BLG-266Lb, after the survey that first issued the alert, and is about ten times more massive than the Earth. It orbits a star with a mass of 0.56 Solar masses at a distance of 3.2 AU. The planet's mass and distance indicate that it may be a "failed Jupiter-core" since current planetary formation theories predict that an object of such characteristics should have swept up the surrounding gas and grown more massive.

ESA Selects Solar Orbiter Mission

The ESA Science Programme Committee has selected Solar Orbiter as the M1 Medium Class mission in its Cosmic Vision programme, with a 2017 launch. Solar Orbiter will get closer to the Sun than any previous mission in order to study the coronal source regions of the solar wind and its in situ evolution. David Burgess, of the Astronomy Unit, is a member of the Science Teams for three different instruments: the magnetometer, solar wind particle analyser and plasma wave instrument. 

In addition to Solar Orbiter, ESA has selected Euclid, a cosmology mission targeted at dark matter and dark energy, for a 2019 launch.

ESA announcement

BBC news item

PhD Viva: Heidar Thrastarson

Congratulations to Heidar Thrastarson on the successful passing of his PhD viva on 19 September! His thesis is entitled: "General Circulation Modelling of Close-In Extrasolar Giant Planets."

The figure shows dynamic, planetary scale storms on a Hot Jupiter, with instantaneous flow (arrows) and potential vorticity (colour scale) in a simulation of a typical close-in extrasolar giant planet atmosphere.

RAS Fellowships 2012

The Royal Astronomical Society is offering up to 3 Fellowships from October 2012 from post-doctoral candidates, of any nationality, who are ordinarily resident in the UK. Full details available at the RAS web site. Application Deadline 9am, 1 November 2011.  Potential candidates interested in applying with Queen Mary should contact David Burgess (Director of Astronomy Unit) as soon as possible, and before 25 October, 2011.

New School of Physics and Astronomy

Hubble

Queen Mary has a new SPA!

Queen Mary has approved the merger of the School of Physics with the Astronomy Unit, to form a new School of Physics and Astronomy (that's right, it's the`SPA') from August 1st, 2011. This will open up new opportunities for research, and in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, with an expansion of the undergraduate Astrophysics programmes, new undergraduate projects, and integration with the existing M.Sc. in Astrophysics.

Pages