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University astronomer stars in BBC documentary

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Image credit: University of Exeter
Image credit: University of Exeter

Members of the University’s Physics & Astronomy departments became stars in their own right as they were featured on the January 9 episode of the popular BBC television series, Stargazing Live.

The episode saw the experts such as Dr Nathan Mayne (pictured) discuss their research into exoplanets, which are planets that orbit other stars, just like how our planet orbits its resident star, the sun.

The highlight was the demonstration of a numerical simulation developed in part by Dr Mayne, which BBC staff used to produce a 3D graphic depicting how atmospheres on such exoplanets might appear.

In statements made to the Exeter Express And Echo, Dr Mayne felt that the discussion and demonstration, which was carried out in front of a live studio audience, provided “excellent insight” into the University’s astrophysics research.

A total of 10 experts contributed to the research featured on the programme. They hail from either the University’s Astrophysics or Mathematics groups or the Met Office, which is based in Exeter.

According to Dr Mayne, there were no undergraduates involved, as the research is currently not mature enough.

The University’s programme specialises in research of star and exoplanet formation, and is one of the largest astrophysics groups in the UK.

Dr Mayne recognised this, and, in an interview with the University, said: “We are all really excited to be taking part in this wonderful programme, and to be given the opportunity to talk about all of the exoplanet research performed here in Exeter.”

He hopes that the University’s involvement will contribute to Stargazing Live’s greater aim of inspiring interest in astronomy.

Currently into its fourth series, the programme is hosted by celebrated Irish comedian Dara O’Briain, and Professor Brian Cox.

The series has covered events such as stargazing gatherings and school visits, along with a website stocked with knowledge on astronomy and its related subjects.

Bryan Toh, News Team

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