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High-Energy Astrophysics PhD Student Seán Mooney wins 2nd place for best student poster at the U.K. Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting 2017.

Blazars are active galaxies with powerful radio jets that happen by chance to be pointed towards the Earth. Each blazar is believed to be powered ultimately by accretion onto a supermassive black hole at its centre. The jets contain bulk material accelerated to close to the speed of light. 3C 273 is the first blazar to be discovered, and has a jet which contains several ‘knots’ moving away from the central black hole. Sean is using LOFAR stations spread throughout Europe to image the knots in the jet of 3C 273 at low radio frequencies, with the radio emission (called ‘synchrotron radiation’) understood to be produced by relativistic electrons spiraling in magnetic fields. The observations will allow the spatial and spectral distributions of these electrons to be studied, and the results will then be combined with measurements at other wavelengths to understand the broadband radiation mechanisms at work in the jet.


It has been a busy first year for Seán in his PhD, which is supported by a UCD School of Physics Scholarship in Research and Teaching (SIRAT). In the second week of his PhD Seán, with his supervisor Assoc. Prof. John Quinn, wrote a research proposal that was submitted to the International LOFAR Telescope competitive observing scheme (Cycle 7) and was awarded 8 hours of observations on 3C 273. The observations have already been made and Seán is in the process of reducing the multi-TB data set, working with collaborator Dr. Leah Morabito at the University of Oxford, U.K.  Sean also had successful grant applications awarded by the Irish Research Council, including a New Foundations 2016 award that enabled his collaboration with LOFAR scientists in the Netherlands and U.K. and participation at NAM2017, and a Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme award that will support his PhD studies for the next three years.




For more information:

Sean Mooney (, @OverTheMooney38 at Twitter)

John Quinn (, @JohnQuinnUCD at Twitter)