Storm Overseas inner page banner

Astronaut’s Plan B

How many of you wanted to be an astronaut while growing up? The prospect of travelling in a space shuttle, landing on planets other than our own and seeing meteors and comets from up close is just too enticing for many. But did you know that astronauts are typically engineers or physicists who have been specially trained to carry out missions in the outer space? 

These days, however, we don’t need to leave Earth in order to study the universe that lies beyond our planet. Scientists are increasingly relying on advanced telescopes, radio waves detection systems, remote probes and other sophisticated equipment to study space from the comfort of their labs on Earth, and in Ireland as in the case of researchers at Dublin City University.

We all have a rudimentary understanding of what black holes are. These are essentially ‘dead’ stars, which no longer shine like our Sun, that suck up everything around them. But how do these form exactly? How many of are there in our galaxy and in our universe? These are some of the questions that baffled physicists since black holes were first discovered in the 20th century.

Researchers from Dublin City University’s Centre for Astrophysics and Relativity (CfAR) have some answers. The light released from the first massive black holes in the universe is so intense that it is able to reach our telescopes across the entire expanse of the universe. The light from the most distant black holes (or quasars) has been travelling towards earth for more than 13 billion light years, allowing us to have a glimpse into dawn of the universe.

The team showed that when galaxies are formed rapidly, and sometimes violently, it can lead to the formation of massive black holes. The rapid assembly of gas means that instead of normal star formation proceedings, embryonic stars become puffed up with hot gas. This leads to the formation of what is called a “supermassive” star. Supermassive stars can only survive for a short time before quickly collapsing into massive black holes. The new study turns upside down the long-accepted belief that massive black hole formation could only happen in regions bombarded by powerful radiation from nearby galaxies. This research shifts that paradigm and opens up a whole new area of research.

Conclusions of the study are reported in the journal Nature and supported by funding from the US National Science Foundation, the European Union and NASA.

DCU, located in Ireland’s capital, Dublin, is a leading university both nationally and internationally. It is ranked in the top 4% of the universities worldwide. They offer a range of programmes across science and engineering, IT, business and management and the humanities. Graduates of Irish universities and institutes are able to stay in the country for up to 2 years after the successful completion of their studies.

Applications are still open for September 2019 intake. So, what are you waiting for? Head to your nearest STORM office to find out more and start applying! While you’re at it, don’t forget to download STORM app from Google Play store to keep on top of latest news and developments, courses and scholarships and get to speak to current students studying abroad and win cool prizes!