Astronomers from around the world converge on Armagh Observatory

Photo by 'Armagh Observatory

Dozens of scientists from around the world are converging on Armagh for an international conference on a type of star rarely spotted in the night sky.

The conference runs until Saturday at Armagh Observatory, and will explore the unusual phenomena of ‘hydrogen deficient’ stars.

Armagh Observatory was chosen for the conference due to the expertise of three of its astronomers — Professors Simon Jeffery and Jorick Vink and Dr Gavin Ramsay, who each play a world-leading role in this field of research.

All stars in the night sky are composed of the same stuff that was made in the Big Bang — nine atoms of hydrogen to one atom of helium, the two simplest atoms in the Universe.   

It is extremely rare to find a star with no hydrogen, even on its surface, and it is these ‘hydrogen deficient’ or HDEF stars that the conference will focus on.

The conference is the fourth of its kind, and the first to be held in the UK.

The first was convened in India in 1985, and a further two in Germany in 1996 and 2007.

Professor Michael Burton, Director of Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, said: “The Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is an exemplar for Northern Ireland on the world stage, an institution excelling in research and public outreach in science, set within a heritage environment with a rich in scientific history.

“We are delighted to be able to showcase our significance within the City of Armagh to our international research community”.

Archbishop Richard Clarke, Chair of the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium Board of Governors, said the conference highlights the Observatory’s importance on the world stage.

“Armagh Observatory was established by my predecessor Archbishop Richard Robinson in 1790 with the aim of increasing human understanding of the universe, its origins and the processes which maintain and cause it to develop,” he said.

“I am delighted that over 220 years later the combined Observatory and Planetarium continues to bring a sense of place to the City of Armagh and is a source of pride for its citizens. This conference, bringing together renowned experts from across the world, demonstrates Armagh Observatory and Planetarium’s status as a recognised player on the world stage.”

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