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News 2014

24 Sep 2014

TCD Postdoctoral Researcher Wins Prestigious ELEVATE Fellowship

A postdoctoral researcher at TCD Astrophysics has won a prestigious fellowship co-funded by the Irish Research Council and Marie Curie actions. Dr Eoin Carley, who has recently finished his PhD at TCD's School of Physics, was awarded the fellowship to undertake two years of research at the Paris Observatory working with Dr Nicole Vilmer, followed by one year back at TCD working with Prof. Peter Gallagher. The research will involve studying the origins of high-energy particles in the solar atmosphere and the affect they have on Earth's space-based technologies. Eoin will use the world-leading radio astronomy facilities of the Paris Observatory to gain a new understanding of the fundamental physics of particle acceleration and high energy activity taking place on the Sun.

Eoin was among 30 other awardees who will have the unique opportunity to work with leading experts in their field at the top Research Centres and Higher Educations Institutes in the world, among which are University of Oxford, University of British Columbia, M.I.T., Harvard and Stanford. These Fellows' research spans the academic disciplines from Humanities and Social Sciences to Science, Engineering and Technology.

To kick-start the fellowship, the Irish Research Council hosted an event on September 17th, where the awardees met and took part in a worksop on developing skills as researchers and furthering their postdoctoral careers. The speakers included Dr Janet Metcalfe, Chair and Head of Vitae, and a member of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Advisory Group, and Barbara Moynihan, from 'On Your Feet', an organisation that teaches key presentation skills and professional strategies for developing careers in science and business.

The fellowships officially begins on October 1st, and will allow TCD's astrophysics research group to build upon its recent success in radio astronomy and establish an official link with the Paris Observatory, which is one of the largest astronomical research centers in the world.

9 Sep 2014

Europe's Largest Gathering of Solar Scientists Descend on Trinity College Dublin

The solar researchers will discuss some of the biggest questions in modern astrophysics, such as how solar storms cause 'space weather' impacts here on Earth.

Over 240 solar scientists will gather today for the beginning of 'the premier conference in Europe' in all aspects relating to the physics of the Sun. The School of Physics at Trinity College Dublin will play host to the scientists, who are here to discuss and debate the latest discoveries relating to our nearest star at the 14th European Solar Physics Meeting.

Solar physics addresses some of the biggest scientific questions in modern day astrophysics and is a truly 'composite science', requiring expertise and knowledge in physics, mathematics, computer science and engineering (all of the STEM subjects in one field) to answer difficult questions. Combining exciting cutting-edge science with the most advanced technology available, such as ESA and NASA satellites and new generations of ground-based telescopes, researchers unravel the mysteries of how the Sun works by detecting dynamic activity in the Sun's atmosphere. That is extremely important because solar activity causes 'space weather' (solar storms).

ESPM-14 is poised to deliver the latest developments in our understanding. Dr Shaun Bloomfield, Senior Research Fellow in the School of Physics at Trinity College Dublin, is the chairperson of the local organizing committee. He said: "The ESPM conference series is a rare occasion for all of the disciplines in the European solar research community to come together and take stock of our current understanding of the Sun and the challenges that we face."

Ongoing research in Trinity College Dublin's Solar Physics and Space Weather Research Group, led by Prof Peter Gallagher, has a particular emphasis in the study of space weather, which appears when conditions change in near-Earth space due to solar flares and energetic eruptions coming from the Sun. This thriving research group specializes in predicting the occurrence of solar activity and the arrival of solar storms at Earth.

"The Sun has the power to influence the near-Earth environment on a daily basis, causing major disruptions to Earth's protective magnetic shield. Adverse space weather can create things as beautiful as the Northern lights, but it can also impact our day-to-day lives in the form of satellite communication failures and radio blackouts," said Dr Shaun Bloomfield.

4 Sep 2014

TCD Hosts 14th European Solar Physics Meeting

The 14th European Solar Physics Meeting (ESPM-14; twitter: @ESPM2014) will take place between the 8-12 September in the Hamilton Building, MacNeill Lecture Theatre. The Solar Physics Group will host the largest gathering of professional solar research scientists in Europe, to discuss and debate the latest discoveries relating to our nearest star. It is expected that over 240 solar scientists will attend the meeting in what is billed as, 'the premier conference in Europe' in all aspects relating to the physics of the Sun. Solar physics is a science that addresses some of the biggest scientific questions in modern day astrophysics, with solar astronomers having access to some of the most advanced technology available, such as the ESA and NASA satellites. ESPM-14 is poised to deliver the latest developments in our understanding of how the Sun works and the latest insights into the forces that drive adverse space weather.

In association with ESPM-14, there will be a public talk arranged by the Science Gallery and provided by a prominent solar physicist, Pål Brekke (Senior Advisor at the Norwegian Space Centre), to be held in the Paccar Theatre on Thursday, September 11, 2014 from 18:00 to 19:15. The talk will be on the theme of, "Strange Space Weather: Pål Brekke on the Northern Lights" which you are all welcome to attend.

More information on booking is provided here.

7 Aug 2014

Public Lecture at TCD: "Seeing stars: science and education with big telescopes"

Prof. Paul Roche will be giving a public lecture during the week of the first Irish National Astronomy Meeting (INAM2014)

We are pleased to announce that Professor Paul Roche (University of South Wales) will give a public lecture on the evening of Thursday August 14th in the Joly Lecture Theatre in the Hamilton Building of Trinity College Dublin (see here for location of the venue).

Astronomy is a science that asks (and sometime answers!) the biggest questions in the Universe. Modern astronomers benefit from access to some of the most advanced technology on the planet, capable of detecting the gases in the atmospheres of distant worlds that might one day reveal the presence of life beyond our solar system. Combining exciting science with state-of-the-art technology like the massive European Southern Observatory facilities allows researchers to unravel the mysteries of the Universe - but also provides educators with amazing opportunities to inspire the next generation of scientists.

This talk will look at the development of big telescopes, and how schools are engaging with real science, and helping to make real discoveries.

The event is free and open to the public and doors open at 7:00 pm. The venue has limited seating so if you are planning to attend the public lecture we ask you to please register online using this form.

27 Jun 2014

Trinity's New Observatory in Birr to Illuminate the Sun-Earth Connection

Radio antennae at Trinity's Rosse Solar-Terrestrial Observatory in Birr Castle Demesne monitor bursts of radio waves from the Sun.

The Rosse Solar-Terrestrial Observatory - a Trinity College Dublin School of Physics teaching and research facility devoted to studying the Sun and its effects on Earth - will be officially opened with a ceremony at Birr Castle Demesne, Co. Offaly, on Saturday June 28th.

The Sun is an enormous ball of hot gas, which keeps our planet hot enough for life to flourish. From time to time though, huge clouds of hot solar gas can be flung into space at hundreds of thousands of kilometres an hour. These 'solar storms' can endanger astronauts and cause problems for telecommunications and navigation systems here on Earth. Scientists will use the observatory and its set of scientific instruments to work out when solar storms erupt from the Sun and when they hit the Earth's upper atmosphere and magnetic field. Scientists at Trinity have developed the observatory at Birr Castle in the midlands of Ireland to monitor the effervescent Sun's nearly unpredictable outbursts.

Director of the Rosse Solar-Terrestrial Observatory and Associate Professor in Physics at Trinity, Peter Gallagher, said: "We are delighted to reignite scientific research at Birr and to honour one of Ireland's greatest innovators of the 1800s, the 3rd Earl of Rosse, by naming the observatory for him."

Trinity has established links with Birr that stretch back over a century and a half. Indeed, the 3rd Earl was Chancellor in 1862-1867, the 4th Earl was Chancellor in 1885-1908 and the 6th Earl was Pro-Chancellor in 1949-1979.

The observatory will enable researchers to study the Sun and its effects on the Earth like no other facility in Ireland. A set of antennae will constantly monitor solar activity, while another antenna will monitor solar effects on a layer of the Earth's upper atmosphere called the 'ionosphere'. Ionospheric disturbances can cause drop-outs in high-frequency communications with aircraft.

An additional instrument, called a magnetometer, which is operated jointly with the Geophysics Section of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, will continuously monitor disturbances in the Earth's magnetic field. These 'geomagnetic storms' can cause deflections in compasses and surges in electricity power grids.

Professor Gallagher added: "A facility like this will also enable Irish students to gain valuable hands on skills in programming, electronics, antennas, and cutting-edge scientific research at a working observatory. Physics graduates are in great demand in high-tech companies and end up working in a wide range of sectors including IT, finance, engineering, education, which are all areas of particular importance to the development of the smart economy in Ireland."

24 Jun 2014

TCD Researcher Dr. Eamon Scullion and Colleagues Unlock Secrets of Solar Rain

Images taken by Dr Eamon Scullion (Trinity College, Dublin) and Prof Luc Rouppe van der Voort (University of Oslo, Norway) using the CRISP camera at the Swedish Solar Tower in La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain

Just like on Earth, the Sun has spells of bad weather, with high winds and showers of rain. But unlike the all-too-frequent storms of the UK and Ireland, rain on the Sun is made of electrically charged gas (plasma) and falls at around 200,000 kilometres an hour from the outer solar atmosphere, the corona, to the Sun's surface. And the thousands of droplets that make up a 'coronal rain' shower are themselves each as big as Ireland.

Now a team of solar physicists, led by Dr Eamon Scullion of Trinity College Dublin, have pieced together an explanation for this intriguing phenomenon, with imagery that shows a 'waterfall' in the atmosphere of the Sun. Dr Scullion will present their work at the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2014) in Portsmouth on Tuesday 24 June 2014.

For the full press release, please see these various news websites which have picked up on the solar excitement!

The coronal rain is much clearer in a movie, and can be seen in the latter half of the CRISP movie available for download here. The rain appears to flow from the lower-right to the upper-left of the field of view.

8 May 2014

TCD researchers use NASA Telescopes to coordinate best-ever flare observations

The 29 March 2014 X-class flare captured by the team in various wavelengths of light. Credit: Dr. Lucia Kleint (BAER Institute), Dr. Alberto Sainz-Dalda (Stanford University) & Dr. Kevin Reardon (National Solar Observatory)

On 29 March 2014, an international team of scientists, including Dr. Paul Higgins (an Irish Research Council Research Fellow in the Trinity College Dublin Astrophysics Research Group), obtained the most detailed observations to date of an X-class solar flare. The huge solar eruption was recorded simultaneously from multiple telescopes on the ground and in space. The event is one of the best observed flares using modern instrumentation. The team's success was helped by Dr. Higgins, a flare prediction expert, who assisted the team in New Mexico by making an accurate forecast of the event and initiating a 'Major Flare Watch' hours beforehand, putting observatories around the world on high-alert.

A discussion of the event is set to air on NASA TV today, May 8th at 19:30 Irish Time.

See here for the NASA Press Release.

26 Feb 2014

Researchers at TCD and Zooniverse launch Sunspotters website

Homepage of the new Sunspotter website. Click on the image to start your contribution to solar research!

A new project lead by a team of researchers at ARG and Zooniverse has launched! Sunspotter is a new citizen science project which aims to give anyone with an interest in science the opportunity to get involved in frontier space research.

Guests of the website will be given the opportunity to classify the complexity of regions of strong magnetic field, called sunspots, which are located on the surface of the Sun. Complex sunspots are believed to be more likely to produce enormous explosions known as solar storms. These storms can have a strong effect on life on Earth, as they can be damaging to our power grids, GPS and communications satellites, and even astronauts during spacewalks. Therefore by helping to spot complex active regions, users can help scientists predict and prepare for these potentially destructive events.

To get started, visit the Sunspotter webpage. For further details on the launch, see the TCD press release. For other fascinating citizen science projects, visit the Zooniverse website.

14 Jan 2014

Former ARG Member Dr. Joseph Roche Set to Go to Mars

Artist's conception of the settlement to be built on Mars prior to the launch of the Mars One mission in 2024 Credit: Mars One

Dr Joseph Roche, former researcher in the Atrophysics Research group, now Research Projects Coordinator for the Science Gallery, has been shortlisted for a one-way mission to mars.

As a result of a video application, and his tireless efforts to bring science to the public eye, Dr. Roche along with only 1,000 others has been selected from 200,000 total applicants to make it to the next round of the Mars One program. This mission aims to land four participants on the planet Mars starting in the year 2024. The Astrophysics Research Group at TCD wishes Joe the best of luck in the future rounds!

An interview with Joe can be found here.

10 Jan 2014

Trinity Astrophysics makes Nature Cover

Cover of Nature Physics 2013 Vol. 9, featuring research performed by Dr. Eoin Carley and fellow members of the Astrophysics Research Group at TCD, as well as colleagues in the Mullard Space Science Lab, UK and the University of Hawai'i.

Research from the School of Physics solar group has been featured on the front page of the leading international journal, Nature Physics. The researchers used a combination of measurements from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and radio data from the Nancay Radioheliograph and the Rosse Observatory in Birr to detail the mechanism that connects coronal mass ejections from the Sun and the acceleration of particles to relativistic speeds.

The full paper can be found here.


  • 17 Oct 2013: Trinity Researchers Tune in to the Radio Sun

    Solar radio burst associated with a coronal mass ejection observed by radio antennas on NASA's STEREO spacecraft, and at the Nancay Decametric Array in France and TCD's Rosse Observatory in Birr Castle, Ireland.
    New research by scientists at Trinity College Dublin, University College London, and the University of Hawai'i, published online in Nature Physics, has shown for the first time a direct link between solar storms, shock waves and solar radio bursts.

    The Sun gives light and heat that makes life possible on Earth. It can, however, have more sinister effects, sometimes unleashing huge eruptions of hot gas, called solar storms, which carry billions of tons of matter travelling at millions of kilometres an hour in Earth's direction. These storms can be accompanied by solar radio bursts, which can cause damaging effects on many of the technologies that we rely on in our everyday lives.

    ''Radio bursts from solar storms can have adverse effects on both satellite and terrestrial communications. In fact, mobile phone networks can experience increased dropped-calls during periods of increased solar activity,'' said Eoin Carley, Irish Research Council PhD student at the School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin and first author on a recent paper on this topic in Nature Physics.

    Despite decades of study, the link between solar storms and solar radio bursts has remained unclear. This led Professor Peter Gallagher,a solar physicist at Trinity's School of Physics, to establish a radio observatory at Birr Castle in the midlands of Ireland to monitor solar radio bursts.

    ''What we have found is fascinating − a real insight into how solar radio bursts are created'', said Professor Gallagher. ''Using antennas at Trinity's Rosse Observatory in Birr Castle together with images from NASA's STEREO and Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft, we have identified a missing link between solar storms and radio bursts.''

    The findings, which were published online this week in Nature Physics, show that solar storms create huge shock waves that race through the solar atmosphere at millions of kilometres per hours. As they do, they can accelerate electrons to huge energies, which then produce radio waves.

    ''Our results not only give an insight into the fundamental physics of explosions on the Sun, but enable us to better understand how the Sun affects the Earth and potentially its impacts on our daily lives'' according to Carley.

    The full paper can be found here.

    This research has been supported by the Irish Research Council which funds research and scholarship relevant to all aspects of social, cultural and economic development in Ireland. The authors would like to thank NASA for their open-access data policy.

  • 12 Aug 2013: TCD space weather forecast study turns table of effective predictions on its head: A comparison of solar flare forecasting systems has turned the performance table of apparently effective prediction methods on its head. Researchers at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, have tested the reliability of seven techniques against their record of predicting flares and non-flare events correctly, as well as their history of missed flares and false alarms. Read more at

  • 13 June 2013: Out of this World Success for the European Space Expo at Trinity College Dublin: Approximately 30,000 people visited the European Space Expo during its time at Trinity College Dublin on June 4-9, making it the most popular event of the 12 countries previously visited including London, Madrid, and Brussels.

    Hosted by Trinity's School of Physics, visitors of all ages were given the opportunity to experience the wonders of space through interactive exhibits and learn how space science can benefit us all. As well as the team of dedicated mediators taking visitors on fun-filled tours of the dome, a series of daily short Soap-Box Talks were given by talented scientists from all over Ireland on fascinating topics including ''What's happening on Mars today?'', ''The Scale of The Universe'' and ''Interstellar space flight and other wild adventures''. For further details, please visits the TCD Communications Office's website.

  • 27 April 2013: Dr. Alexander Brown visits the Astrophysics Research Group: Dr. Alexander Brown from the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA recently visited the the astrophysics research group. Dr. Brown presented his recent results at the joint TCD - DIAS seminar and his talk described how he is using the KEPLER Observatory to study starspot evolution, differential rotation, and flares on late-type stars.

  • 24 March 2013: Jocelyn Bell Burnell Inaugurated as Pro Chancellor of the University of Dublin: Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the discoverer of 'pulsars', was recently inaugurated as pro chancellor of the University of Dublin. As a research student in Cambridge in 1967, she detected unusual radio pulses coming from beyond the solar system and helped identify the pulses as emanating from rapidly spinning, super-dense, collapsed stars, subsequently named 'pulsars'. Her landmark detections were made using a low frequency radio telescope similar to LOFAR.


  • 06 December 2012: A Day in the Life of an Astrophysicist: If you're wondering what it's like to be part of the Astrophysics Research Group, this comic, created by Joseph Roche, recounts a typical day in the life of an Astrophysicist. If you wish to learn more about being an astrophysicist, feel free to contact any members of our group.

  • 03 December 2012: ARG member wins 'I'm a Scientist, Get me out of Here!' : Congratulations to ARG member Paul Higgins who recently won 'I'm a Scientist, Get me out of Here!'. 'I'm a Scientist, Get me out of Here!' is a free online event where school students get to meet and interact with scientists. It's a free X Factor-style competition between scientists, where the students are the judges. Students challenge the scientists over intense, fast-paced online live chats. They then ask the scientists all the questions they want to, and vote for their favourite scientist to win a prize of 500 Euro to communicate their work with the public. Paul plans to use the money to kick off a website to help bring astronomy into primary and secondary school classrooms.

  • 27 November 2012: The science of Danny Boyle's "SUNSHINE". Is our sun dying? Is it possible to save humanity by re-igniting it with massive bomb? Can the 8 man crew make the journey without losing their minds?

    Newstalks Radio's Futureproof proudly presents "The Science of Sunshine" in the Science Gallery. Newstalk's weekly science show has been exploring the real science behind some of the most iconic science fiction films and now, with the help of TCD solar physics researcher Peter Gallagher, will take on some of the most challenging questions in Danny Boyle's Sunshine. There will be a screening of the film accompanied by a Q&A with Peter Gallagher and Futureproof host Jonathan McCrea.

  • 11 September 2012: PhD Studentship in Sub-millimetre Interferometry Available!: The Astrophysics Research Group (ARG) at Trinity College Dublin currently have one fully funded PhD studentship available. The research project will be focused on sub-millimetre interferometry of cool evolved stars. Interested individuals should contact Dr. Graham Harper. See this attachment for more details.

  • 30 August 2012: ARG members report on Irish light pollution: A draft document on light pollution, with reference to the situation in Ireland, is available from this link. Brian Espey and Joe McCauley are members of the Light Pollution Sub-committee of the Royal Irish Academy's Astronomy and Space Science Committee and have been undertaking measurements of light pollution in collaboration with volunteers from the entire island of Ireland. The 13 page report contains an overview of the general problem of light pollution, images of Ireland at night from both space and ground, and an illustrations of the far-reaching effects of light pollution from urban areas.

  • 28 July 2012: I-LOFAR on Science Squad: Dr. Peter Gallagher recently appeared on RTE's 'The Science Squad' where he discussed the exciting I-LOFAR project. The aim of I-LOFAR is to build a cutting-edge radio telescope in Birr Castle Demesne in the midlands of Ireland, and join the international LOFAR network.

  • 02 July 2012: Current NASA Administrator to Talk at TCD!: Charles Bolden, the current NASA administrator will give a talk titled 'Pushing the Limits to Achieve Success' in the Burke Lecture Theatre, TCD, on July 12th at 1pm. See this link for more details.

  • 27 June 2012: PhD Studentship in High Energy Solar Physics: The Solar Physics Group at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded PhD studentship in the area of X-ray imaging of solar flares. The student will use images and spectra from NASA's RHESSI mission to study the evolution of solar flares and their association with coronal mass ejections. In addition, the student will be involved in the development of X-ray imaging techniques for the Spectrometer-Telescope Imaging X-rays (STIX) instrument onboard ESA's Solar Orbiter spacecraft. Solar Orbiter, which is scheduled for launch in 2017, will fly inside the orbit of Mercury and enable us to answer some of the most fundamental questions about the Sun and solar energetic events.

    This 3-year PhD studentship includes an annual stipend of EUR 16,000, payment of tuition fees of EUR 6,100, and an annual travel award of approximately EUR 2,000.

    For general inquires and details of the application process, please contact Dr. Peter T. Gallagher ( and/or Dr. Shaun Bloomfield ( Further details on the research carried out in the group can be found at

  • 05 June 2012: TAP students visit ARG: Trinity Access Program (TAP) students, as part of their visits to different disciplines in Trinity, recently received astrophysics related talks in the Schrodinger Lecture theatre by Dr Gareth Murphy (DIAS) and Dr David Perez-Suarez (TCD). The highlight of the talks was a discussion on the recent transit of Venus which will not occur again until 2117. This event was a participation in the message to the future campaign organized by the Gloria-project.

  • 25 April 2012: ARG member participates in 'Making an Impact 2012': Congratulations to Daniel Ryan who competed in the final of 'Making an Impact 2012' at The Helix in Dublin City University on Tuesday 24th April. The competition was run by the Irish Independent and the Higher Education Authority. Daniel talked about his research into solar flares and their possible impact on the global society.

  • 23 April 2012: Astrophysics Group Member Elected to Fellow of Trinity College Dublin: On Trinity Monday (April 16, 2012), the Provost announced that Dr. Peter Gallagher has been elected a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin. The election of new Fellows and Scholars is announced from the steps of the Public Theatre in Front Square. Trinity College Dublin was founded as a corporation consisting of the Provost, the Fellows and the Scholars. Scholarship or research achievement of a high order is the primary qualification for Fellowship, coupled with evidence of the candidate's contribution to the academic life of the College and an effective record in teaching.

  • 23 April 2012: ARG participates in TAP 2012: Members of ARG recently participated in the Trinity Access Programme (TAP) where primary school students from around Ireland visited the School of Physics and took part in a number of physics related activities. ARG organised the 'comet making in the lab' and the '3D virtual tour of the solar system' events. TAP provides a range of supports to students, families and communities from socio-economic groups under-represented in higher education and encourages them to go to university.

  • 04 March 2012: ARG member receives Fulbright Scholarship: Congratulations to ARG member, Daniel Ryan, who was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to complete his PhD research on solar flares at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The Fulbright program is a highly prestigious US government scholarship scheme aimed at promoting international understanding through academic exchange and excellence. The Fulbright program has 43 Nobel Laureates among its alumni.

    Daniel has also completed a short documentary on the importance of space weather and how he is using X-ray observations to better understand solar flares.

  • 23 January 2012: Dr. Keiichi Ohnaka visits the Astrophysics Research Group: Dr. Keiichi Ohnaka from the Max-Planck-Institut fur Radioastronomie, Germany visited the ARG group between January 19th and 20th. On Friday Dr. Ohnaka presented his recent results at the joint TCD Physics - DIAS seminar entitled "Spatially resolving the gas dynamics over the surface of the red supergiants Betelgeuse and Antares with the VLT Interferometer".

  • 15 December 2011: New Trinity Solar Web App:

    Trinity College Dublin computer scientists and solar physicists have partnered to produce a web app that allows people to view the most recent NASA and ESA images of the Sun using their SmartPhones. The web app provides access via your SmartPhone to near-realtime data from SOHO, STEREO, Hinode, SDO, PROBA2 GONG, BBSO, Kanzelhohe and NOAA to name but a few.

    There is no need to download an app, just point your mobile/cell phone browser to and it doesn't matter if you are on an Android or an iPhone. Users can try it out for themselves by going to

    There's a demo of the app available for viewing at the following link.

  • 08 December 2011: Public Talk: A public lecture by Prof. Luke Drury on "The Hundred Year Mystery of Cosmic Rays" will take place in the Schroedinger Lecture Theatre at 18:00 on Friday, 9th December.

  • 01 December 2011: ARG Member Receives Award from ISA: Congratulations to ARG member Pietro Zucca who has just received an award from the International Society of Automation for his work on setting up the radio spectrometers at the Rosse Solar-Terrestrial Observatory! Pietro is supported by an Innovation Academy Studentship.

  • 18 November 2011: Good news for DIAS and TCD!: A finance bill has just passed both houses of the US legislature, and will be signed into law today (Friday 18th Nov) providing funding for NASA, NIST and NSF throughout 2012. In particular, this bill guarantees funding for the James Webb Space Telescope, which is good news for the Science Teams, including the MIRI Science Team of which both Prof. Tom Ray and Prof. Brian Espey are members. Next stop is the MIRI acceptance review in December....

  • 08 November 2011: Dr. Graham Harper Flies with SOFIA Telescope: This week ARG member Dr. Graham Harper flew on the new NASA/DLR airborne observatory, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) to make infrared observations of the massive red supergiant star Betelgeuse. SOFIA is a converted Boeing 747 that has a 2.5 metre diameter reflecting telescope pointing through an opening in the side of the plane. It flies at up to 45,000 feet where it is above 99% of the Earth's atmosphere.

    The SOFIA web-release describing Flight 86 can now be found at the following link.

  • 01 September 2011: New ARG Members: ARG would like to welcome two new postgraduate research students, Neal O'Riain and Sarah Kennelly to the group. Both students will pursue PhD research in observational and theoretical stellar physics under the supervision of Dr. Graham Harper.

  • 25 August 2011: ARG Research Features at Innovation Academy: ARG member Pietro Zucca recently presented a movie at the TCD-UCD Innovation Academy explaining how he uses radio astronomy to study solar physics and space weather as part of his PhD research.

  • 19 August 2011: EVLA studies of Red Giants: An international team of radio astronomers led by Dr. Graham Harper and Eamon O'Gorman of Trinity College have used the EVLA to observe two nearby red giants. The EVLA, located on the Plains of San Agustin in New Mexico, allowed the team to measure the thermal profiles of the red giant atmospheres. First results presented at the "Atoms to Stars" conference at Oxford University (July 2011) appear to show significant differences to ultraviolet spectra based temperatures.

    Image: Courtesy of NRAO

  • 22 July 2011: ARG Retreat 2011: A 2011 retreat for the Trinity College astrophysics group took place on Friday 22nd July at Dunsink Observatory. Both staff and students gave general talks on their current areas of research while invited speakers, John Brown and Catriona Jackman gave interesting talks about solar flares and planetary magnetopheres. The days schedule can be found on the following page.

  • 22 July 2011 ARG welcomes Astronomer Royal for Scotland: Prof. John Brown from the University of Glasgow is visiting the astrophysics group for a month this summer. During the visit, John will work with ARG researchers to developing a better understanding of solar flares. John's main research interests are high energy radiation from the sun, mass loss from hot stars, and mathematical inverse problems in astronomy. He have also worked on comets and meteors and on astrodynamics, especially of solar-sailed spacecraft. Prof. Brown is also the 10th Astronomer Royal for Scotland.

  • 10 June 2011: Swedish Researchers Visit the Astrophysics Research Group: Dr. Nils Ryde and his M.Sc. student Mohsen Farzone from Lund Observatory, Sweden visited the ARG group during the week of June 6th - 10th. On Thursday Dr. Ryde gave a talk at the joint TCD Physics - DIAS seminar entitled "What is the cosmic origin of sulphur and why is it important?".

  • 02 June 2011: PROBA2 observes a partial eclipse of the Sun: ESA's PROBA2 satellite observed a partial eclipse of the Sun using its EUV imager called SWAP. SWAP uses an Active Pixel Sensor camera to take images of the Sun every minute. PROBA2 is an ESA micro-satellite launched on November 2, 2009. TCD were responsible for writing the image processing software for the SWAP EUV imager.

  • 24 May 2011: ARG research features on UKSP nugget: The research being carried out by members of the ARG group at the Rosse Solar-Terrestrial Observatory (RSTO) is currently being featured on the UK Solar Physics (UKSP) website. RSTO is an autonomous solar radio observing station containing two radio instruments which monitor solar radio bursts and ionospheric disturbances. The group are using these instruments to study Type II radio bursts and their relationship with coronal mass ejections (CMEs). More information on this research can be found on the UKSP nugget.

  • 07 March 2011: TYPE Astrophysics Day a Success: TYPE Astrophysics Day recently took place in the school of physics and was deemed a great success. Over 40 students participated and their feedback was very positive. For most, the highlights of the day were the 'comet making in the lab' and the '3D tour of the solar system' events. Many thanks to all who helped out.

  • 17 February 2010: TCD's Rosse Observatory Featured in "Nature": The astrophysics group recently established the Rosse Solar-Terrestrial Observatory (RSTO) in Birr Castle Demesne. The aim of the observatory is to study solar radio bursts and their effects on the Earth. One of the instruments at RSTO is a solar radio burst spectrometer called Callisto, which observes the Sun at 45-870 MHz, and it part of a global network of spectrometers dedicated to monitoring the Sun on a 24-7 basis. You can read more about the Callisto network in Nature News.

  • 26 Jan 2011: Irish Astronomical Association Public Lecture: On Wednesday 26th January Dr. Graham Harper gave a lecture entitled "The Sun in Time" at Queens University Belfast. More information on his lecture can be found on the Irish Astronomical Association website.


  • 01 November 2010: Gold Medal for TCD Astrophysics Graduate: TCD Astrophysics graduate Aidan O Flannagain was awarded a prestigious Gold Medal at the 2010 Undergraduate Awards ceremony in the Royal Irish Academy on November 1st, 2010. The Undergraduate Awards recognise and reward the island of Ireland's most innovative young knowledge creators, to catalyse the development of the brightest undergraduates, and to inspire all undergraduates to achieve. Aidan was awarded the medal based on his undergraduate thesis on solar flares.

  • 26 October 2010: Former Senior Sophister Astrophysics student to join Dutch Masters: Congratulations from everyone in ARG to recent graduate Nicola Fitzsimons for being accepted into the Astrophysics & Space Research postgraduate Masters programme at Utrecht University.

  • 14 October 2010: Public Talk: "Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe: Einstein's Blunder undone!" A free public lecture entitled "Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe: Einstein's Blunder undone!" will take place on Tuesday 19th October at 7.30pm in the Paccar Theatre of the Science Gallery. The talk will be given by Prof. Robert Kirshner, the Clowes' Professor of Science at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and will be followed by a wine reception. All welcome. More information can be found on the following page.

  • 06 October 2010: Congratulations to Jason Byrne, Shane Maloney, James McAteer, Jose Refojo and Peter Gallagher who are authors of a recently published paper in Nature Communications. The paper outlines the technique used to reconstruct the path of a solar storm through space and may be of great benefit to forecasters of space weather here on Earth. The papers findings gained much media attention and related articles can be found on the Irish Times, Science and NASA websites.

  • 06 September 2010: Public Talk: "Solar Variability and Influences on Climate" A public talk entitled "Solar Variability and Influences on Climate" will be given on Thursday 23rd September by Professor Mike Lockwood at 7pm in the Emmet Theatre, Trinity College. The talk will focus on the world's longest instrumental record of surface temperature, and in particularly on winter temperatures and their relationship to solar conditions including the Maunder minimum. Admission is free but booking is essential. More details and booking information can be found on the Royal Irish Acadamy website.

  • 25 August 2010: The Versatility of HARPS: A planetary system similar to our solar system has been discovered by astronomers using ESO's world-leading HARPS instrument. The Trinity College stellar group, under Dr. Brian Espey, uses HARPS data to study the chemical composition and surface motions of stars more evolved than our own Sun. This information enables his group to study mass-loss, and how that will provide the material for future generations of stars and planets. See ESO's webpage for more on this discovery.

  • 15 July 2010: Meeting Announcement: "The Transient Universe - From Exoplanets to Hypernovae" A joint two day discussion meeting of the Royal Irish Academy, the Royal Astronomical Society, and the Astronomical Science Group of Ireland will be held at the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, Ireland on 23-24 September 2010. The principal topics will include: High-power transients, including gamma-ray bursts, hypernovae, TeV transients; Solar transients and the Sun-Earth connections, and; Stellar transients, including X-ray and radio transients, and other irregular stellar activity; Planetary system transients, including exoplanet and solar-system phenomena. See the Royal Irish Acadamy website for further details.

  • 25 June 2010: SOLARFEST 2010 The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies in conjunction with the TCD Astrophysics Group will host a day-long celebration of the Sun as a star on Saturday, June 12, 2010 in Dunsink Observatory. Admission is free and open to all ages. There will be talks on the Sun-Earth connection, the Sun as a star, how to safely observe the Sun, and an evening lecture on the power of the Sun by Dr. David Williams from University College London.

  • 25 May 2010: Former ARG member involved in exciting new observation Former ARG member Claire Raftery, who is now a post-doctoral fellow at UC Berkeley, was part of a team that observed a comet diving into the sun. The observations were made with NASA's twin STEREO spacecraft and tracked the comet deeper into the sun than ever before. More information on this discovery can be found at the UC Berkely News Center.

  • 13 May 2010: ARG Retreat 2010 A 1 day retreat for the Trinity College astrophysics group will be held on Friday 14th May in Dunsink Observatory. Both staff and students will get the chance to give general talks on their current areas of research while also enjoying the surroundings of Dunsink Observatory. The following schedule lists the proposed activities for the day.

  • 13 May 2010: Astronomy Ireland Public Lecture On Monday 10th May Dr. Brian Espey gave a public lecture entitled "Studying Winds from Red Giants with HST and FUSE" at Trinity College Dublin. More information on his lecture can be found on the Astronomy Ireland website.

  • 04 May 2010: Galway Public Lecture Dr. Peter Gallagher will give a public lecture entitled "The Sun-Earth Connection in 3D" at 8pm on Monday, May 4 in the Westwood House Hotel in Galway. You can find out more on the website of the Galway Astronomy Club.

  • 29 April 2010: Summer Internship: "Development of A Smart Phone Application for Scientific Data Access" The Solar Physics Group needs to develop a smart phone app to access data from The initial target platform will be the iPhone, with the aim to allow subsequent support for Symbian, Blackberry and Android. The developer will need to be very aware of what the solar physics users want from the app. This project will result in an intuitive application for mobile devices, which will allow anyone to easily ascertain both the solar surface and space weather conditions in near realtime and on any day since 1996. A prime aim of this short project is to produce usable results. The results should be open source if possible, perhaps as a mobile web app. A student with expertise in developing applications for mobile devices will be hired for three months from June through August 2010. The student will be located in the Lloyd Instutute CAGlab, but will need to maintain very good communication with the Solar Physics Group. Please contact Dr. Peter Gallagher ( for further details. This internship is supported by the Innovation Bursaries 2010 scheme.

  • 24 March 2010: Solar activity is on the rise! In the past month, the STEREO satellites have observed the Sun emerging from one of its most inactive periods in nearly a century. Below are the most recent images from STEREO showing the Sun's now active atmosphere.

    Find out more on about the recent increase in solar activity at Science Spin, broadcast 18th March on 103.2 Dublin City FM and on RTE TV News.

  • 10 March 2010: Innovation Bursaries 2010. The Astrophysics Group has been awarded two research grants under TCD's Innovation Bursarues 2010 scheme. In the MobileSun: A Smart Phone Application for Scientific Data Access project, the group will develope an application that will enable users to acccess and visualise near realtime images of the Sun from the The have also been awarded one of ten Interdisciplinary PhD Studentships, to study the physical link between solar storms and telecommunication dropouts in Ireland.

  • 27 Jan 2010: TCD Space Scientists Create Technologies for Latest European Space Agency Satellite that Provide New Views of the Sun. Space scientists in Trinity's School of Physics are today celebrating the first images of the Sun from the European Space Agency's latest satellite, Proba-2, launched from northern Russia last November. The TCD Solar Physics team led by Dr Peter Gallagher were responsible for developing novel image processing techniques to enhance and analyse these spectacular new images. Read the TCD Press Release or the associated article in the Irish Independent

    Check out Proba-2 on RTE TV News! They interviewed Dr. Shaun Bloomfield on January 26 and Dr. Peter Gallagher and Dr. James McAteer on January 27.

  • 5 Jan 2010: The 21st STEREO Science Working Group (SWG) is to be held in TCD on March 22-26, 2010. We particularly encourage PhD students and young scientists to present their STEREO-related results as oral presentations. As part of the meeting, we intend to hold a tutorial session on STEREO data analysis software. This is a great opportunity to pose questions on STEREO data, discuss your projects and needs with the STEREO team, and help strengthen the mission as the spacecraft separate from Earth and we look forward to a new solar cycle.


  • 03 November 2009: The Stellar Astronomy Section of the Astrophysics Research Group in the School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin would like to bring Government of Ireland EMPOWER Postdoctoral Fellowship positions to the attention of interested parties. These awards are made to high quality early-stage researchers of any nationality, and allow for up to two years of funding at an Irish institution.

    The Stellar Astronomy Group would be interested in hosting postdoctoral fellows interested in the fields of:
    1. Radio emission from symbiotic and zeta Aurigae systems
    2. Radiative transfer modeling of extended (spherical geometry) cool star atmospheres

    Proposals should be submitted after consultation with the host institution, and the deadline for proposal submission is 17:00 GMT on Thursday, 29th November. Please contact either Dr. Brian Espey (, or Dr. Graham Harper ( in the first instance. Details of the EMPOWER programme are available on IRCSET's EPOWER page. Information on the people and activities of the research group are available on the staff page and research page respectively.

  • 02 November 2009: Proba-2 was successfully launched at 1:50 UT today! The Solar Physics Group celebrated the launch of a new space weather satellite, which uses image analysing software developed at TCD during a special event, held in Trinity's Science Gallery. The event was featured on RTE TV News, the Irish Times, BBC and The Belfast Telegraph. The group, led by Dr Peter Gallagher, were joined at the launch event on November 2nd by the Belgian Ambassador and a representative from the Russian Federation embassy to see the European Space Agencys (ESA) second satellite in its technology demonstration series enter orbit above northern Russia. You can read more about this event at the TCD Communications Office.
  • 13 October 2009: Some recent ARG group photos - now 19 members strong!

    Front Row (Left to Right): Jason Byrne, Sophie Murray, Joseph Roche, Larisza Krista, Eoin Carley, Paul Conlon
    Second Row: Graham Harper, Shane Maloney, David Long, Claire Raftery, David Perez-Suarez, Peter Byrne
    Back Row: Eamon O'Gorman, Peter Gallagher, Joe McCauley, Shaun Bloomfield, James McAteer, Brian Espey, Daniel Ryan, Paul Higgins

    Inside the WHS Monck Observatory

  • 14 September 2009: The launch of the second in the series of PROBA satellites has been confirmed for the beginning of November this year. PROBA2 will carry two instruments designed to study the Sun: SWAP and LYRA. These instruments will be used, not only acquire cutting edge observations, but also to validate new spacecraft technology. While the principle investigators of both instruments are based at the Royal Observatory in Belgium, the Astrophysics Research Group at Trinity College Dublin have played a significant role as co-investigators. Their contribution to the calibration of SWAP and the preparation of user-friendly software for both instruments has been vital to the pre-launch preparation processes. The satellite, one of the most compact ever built by ESA, has recently arrived at Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia, where it is being prepared for launch. The launch, which has been delayed in the past to allow for Russian launches is now set for 01:50 am (corrected to Irish local time) with separation occurring at 04:50am. For more information, tune into Ireland AM on Wednesday 16th September at 9.15am to hear Dr. Peter Gallagher, PI of the TCD solar physics group discuss the details of the mission.

  • 25 August 2009: The stellar astrophysics portion of the Trinity Astrophysics Research Group was successful in being the only Irish-led group to be awarded observing time with the Hubble Space Telescope. The group consists of Dr. Brian Espey, Dr. Cian Crowley, Joseph Roche, Peter Byrne and, the latest member, Dr. Graham Harper. Spectra obtained form part of the stellar group's continuing programme to understand the mass-loss process in evolved cool red giants. Data are currently embargoed, but results will be announced when restrictions are lifted. A talk on the current work will be given by Dr. Espey as part of the DIAS seminar series. Details of the talk can be found at the DIAS Seminar Page.

  • 24 August 2009: The 9th European Symposium for the Protection of the Night Sky takes place from September 17th - 19th 2009 at Armagh Observatory, Ireland. The Symposium will deal with the issue of light pollution, its effects on the environment, health, and astronomy and examine how bad lighting is contributing to global climate change. Click here to download the full programme.

  • 22 April 2009: ARG member Claire Raftery has won two major awards in the space of six days. Claire won the Trinity heat of Science Speak which means she will now represent TCD in the final in the RDS on April 27th (see movie below). Claire gave an excellent presentation of her research, which included a practical demonstrations of how magnetic fields store and release energy on the Sun's surface. The overall winner of Science Speak will win €1,000 and an invite to the prestigious Landau Conference (an invite-only event for Nobel Laureates). Claire followed up this remarkable achievement by winning best poster in the solar physics section of the UK's largest annual meeting, the Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting, with her poster The Flare - CME Connection.

  • 6 April 2009: Congratulations to ARG Member Shane Maloney for his recent impressive placing in the prestigious Rosse Medal competition. Shane finished runner-up in the tightly contested competition that pitted almost forty postgraduates against each other. Students gathered from institutions around the country to present research from all areas of physics. The event took place as part of the Institute of Physics (IOP) Spring Meeting. Among the judges wowed by Shane's poster presentation, entitled 3-D Kinematics of CMEs in the Inner Heliosphere, was IOP President Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell.

  • 6 April 2009: A fully-funded PhD position is available in Trinity's Astrophysics Research Group. The topic of the research project will be stellar mass-loss. Project details are available in PDF format here. Note: This position has now been filled.

  • 16 March 2009: The spring meeting of the Astronomical Science Group of Ireland (ASGI) will take place in Trinity College on Friday 27th of March, 2009. For the complete programme, check out the TCD ASGI Meeting website.

  • 14 March 2009: Prof Peter Hauschildt of the Hamburg Observatory will give a lunchtime seminar on Wednesday 18th of March on Finding Extrasolar Planets. The seminar will be held in the SNIAM Conference Room - directions can be found on our contacts page.

  • 20 February 2009: The PROBA2 satellite has been given a September 8-9, 2009 launch window. ARG researchers are Co-Investogators for the SWAP extreme-ultraviolet camera. SWAP will, for the first time in space, use a cutting-edge CMOS APS detector to capture images of the Sun every minute.

  • 16 February 2009: Peter Gallagher and his group recently appeared on an episode of RTE's The Investigators.

  • 11 December 2008: The School of Physics will be officially opening its teaching observatory on Friday, 12th December, 2008. The ceremony will be held in the Schrodinger Lecture Theatre, Fitzgerald Building, TCD, commencing at noon sharp. The observatory will be opened by Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

  • 8 December 2008: Congratulations to SS astrophysics student, Daniel Ryan, who has been awarded a full studentship to attend the Undergrad Research School in Astrophysics at UCLan.

  • 19 August 2008: Nex year, 2009, will be International Year of Astronomy. The astrophysics group will be organising public talks, schools visits and a exhibit during 2009. Contact Dr. Peter Gallagher or visit the Irish International Year of Astronomy website.

  • 15 August 2008: There will be a partial lunar eclipse tomorrow night (Saturday, 16th October). The Moon will pass right to left through the Earth's Nothern Shadow.

  • 15 August 2008: Trinity's ARG is the only Irish research group to have been awarded observing time on the Hubble Space Telescope's upcoming Cycle 17. This observing cycle will be first following the reparations and improvements made by Servicing Mission 4. This mission is scheduled for October 8th 2008.

  • 01 August 2008: There will be a total solar eclipse visible today from northern Canada, Greenland, central Russia, China and India. Here in Ireland we'll be able to see a partial solar eclipse from 09:24am until 11:00am Irish Summer Time (IST) ... assuming the clouds stay away! NOTE: Never look at the Sun without proper protection. Failure to do so will result in irreversible eye damage.

  • 19 July 2008: Congratulations to Sophie Murray who has just been awarded a 3-year Ussher Fellowship to support her PhD research. The Ussher Fellowships aim to support and develop gifted research students. Sophie will be working with Dr. Shaun Bloomfield and Dr. Peter Gallagher on the magnetic topology of active regions using vector magnetograms from the Hinode satellite.

  • 6 June 2008: The School of Physics is currently advertising a position for a permanent lectureship in Astrophysics. Please see the Recruitment Page for more details. Note: This position has now been filled.

  • 29 May 2008: Media attention to David Long et al.'s startling results unveiled at the 2008 National Astronomy Meeting continues unabated. Click here to see press release coverage from China.

  • 9 April 2008: Astro commons took place on Wednesday, the 9th of April in the historic Trinity College Dining Hall, with ARG as the guests of honour. Each year Astro Commons provides a social environment for JS and SS astrophysics students to get to know the staff in the School of Physics currently carrying out research in the area of astrophysics.

  • 7 April 2008: Following the unveiling of startling new results at the 2008 National Astronomy Meeting, both ARG and in particular David Long have received extensive media coverage for the recent discovery of Solar Tsunami. Movie clips showing these extraordinary findings and further details can be found here. The widespread media coverage can be viewed at the following links:

    Trinity College Press Release

    BBC News Article

    London Times Article

    MSNBC Article Article

    Slashdot Post

  • 7 April 2008: The upcoming Cool Stars XV Meeting in St. Andrews Scotland will include a splinter session chaired by Dr. Cian Crowley of ARG. Details of this session can be found here.

  • 11 Feb 2008: ARG continues to dominate the headlines at the Science Gallery. Click on the image below for the full story.

  • 5 Feb 2008: Check out this video depicting the hugely successful opening of the Science Gallery. Features appearances from ARG members, Dr. Peter Gallagher and Jason Byrne.

  • 1 Feb 2008: The Science Gallery will be hosting an interactive exhibit entitled Heliosphere. The exhibit has been developed by Dr. Peter Gallagher and BAFTA-nominated artist, Anna Hill, and is open to the public during the LIGHTWAVE festival on February 2-9, 2008.



  • 25 Oct 2006: NASA's STEREO spacecrafts lifted off at 01:52 pm Irish time today from Cape Canveral. Racing into space on a Boeing Delta II rocket, the spacecrafts are on their way to investigate the origin of solar storms erupting from the Sun. Members of the School's Astrophysics Research Group in collaboration with the Trinity High Performance Computing Centre will play a leading role in analysing and interpreting the first 3D images of the Sun ever obtained.

  • 23 Oct 2006: Ireland's International Heliophysical Year 2007 website has been launched.

  • 10 Sep 2006: Congratulations to Paul Conlon for winning this year's Ussher Fellowship, and also to Claire Raftery for being awarded a 3-year College Scholarship. Both students will pursue PhD research in theoretical and observational solar physics.

  • 25 Jul 2006: PhD Studentship in stellar mass loss has just become available. The Studentship is funded by Science Foundation Ireland's Research Frontiers Programme. Contact Dr. Brian Espey for further details. Note: This position has now been filled.

  • 22 May 2006: Next year is International Heliophysical Year 2007 and we're coming to a school near you! Send an email to Dr. Peter Gallagher if you'd like us to give a talk about the Sun and the planets in 2006/2007. We're also looking for secondary schools interested in setting up a free Space Weather Monitors. We'll even come and set it up for you!

  • 1 Apr 2006: TCD Astronomer, Dr. Brian Espey, is awarded a Science Foundation Ireland Research Frontiers Programme grant.

  • 29 Mar 2006: Partial Solar Eclipse visible from Ireland. Click here to view an image taken from the roof of the physics building.

  • 13 Mar 2006: ARG host A Radio Telescope for Ireland consortium meeting.

  • 10 Mar 2006: Want to work at NASA for the summer? Contact Dr. Peter Gallagher for details of our new summer internship programme.

  • 3 Mar 2006: TCD to host Solar Image Processing Workshop in September, 2006.

  • 28 Feb 2006: The new Astrophysics Research Group (ARG) website launched.

  • 09 Feb 2006: "Hot project for Irish scientist". Article on our research by Dick Ahlstrom of the Irish Times.