DAMTP members recognised by 2010 Royal Astronomical Society Awards

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) have awarded their Gold Medal for Astronomy to Douglas Gough, Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics, and their Group Achievement Award in Geophysics to the CHIANTI consortium, which includes Dr Helen Mason and Dr Giulio Del Zanna.

Professor Gough's University post was held jointly between DAMTP and the Institute of Astronomy and he continues to contribute to research in both Departments. The Gold Medal recognises his seminal contributions to stellar astrophysics, particularly his development of helioseismology, in which the observed oscillations of the solar surface are used to provide information about the structure of the solar interior. Professor Gough has also applied the same technique to other stars, coining the term 'astroseismology'.

The CHIANTI consortium is a team of scientists who have developed the Atomic Database for Spectroscopic Diagnostics of Astrophysical Plasmas. The consortium's achievement, which has had a huge impact on solar and stellar physics, is the establishment of a systematic and publically available database which is a powerful tool for scientists who use the dispersion of light by wavelength (spectroscopy) to measure the properties of astronomical objects, including their composition, temperature, density and magnetic field strength. Dr Mason, who has held an academic appointment in DAMTP for many years, was a founder member of the CHIANTI consortium. Dr Del Zanna holds an STFC Advanced Research Fellowship in DAMTP. Another member of the consortium who shares in the award is Dr Peter Young, a former DAMTP research student supervised by Dr Mason.

Additionally the RAS 2010 Gold Medal for Geophysics was awarded to a former DAMTP research student, Professor John Woodhouse, of University of Oxford.