We are delighted to see one of our Queen's University postdoctoral researchers win a Royal Astronomical Society Prize in 2017.
Dr Cosimo Inserra was awarded the Winton Capital Award (in astronomy). There are two awards per year, one each in astronomy and geophysics and they are funded by the Winton Capital Investment House in recognition of the skills provided to the financial services sector by trained scientists. These awards are for research by early career Post Doctoral researchers in a UK institution in astronomy or geophysics (within 5 years of passing their viva).
The announcements of all the RAS prizes were made at the Ordinary Meeting of the society held on Friday 13 January 2017. The winners are invited to collect their awards at the Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Hull in July.
Cosimo won the prize for his work on luminous and superluminous supernovae. He had a very productive thesis on luminous type II supernovae and then was first author on a paper to show that the lightcurves and spectra of the new class of superluminous supernovae are well described by the spin down of magnetic neutron stars. "Super-luminous Type Ic Supernovae: Catching a Magnetar by the Tail" presented super-luminous supernovae discovered in the Pan-STARRS, PTF and Catalina Transients Surveys. The new data in Cosimo's paper for these showed the theory of magnetar spin down (proposed by D. Kasen, L. Bildsten and S. Woosley in independent papers in 2010) fitted the observations well. Cosimo went on to lead his own VLT programme to study the geometry of superluminous supernovae and also propose them as cosmological probes. He currently works on the PESSTO project, to find and characterise these unusual and rare explosions.