News release: Student heads research breakthrough

Media and Promotion Office (2002) News release: Student heads research breakthrough. Other. University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Preston.

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The University of Central Lancashire is very proud that one of its PhD students has been selected to
present a paper at the meeting ofthe American Astronomical Society. Tiona Sochting from the
University's Centre for Astrophysics is presenting the findings of a study in which quasars are created.
Quasars are among the most extreme and remarkable objects in the Universe and occur only when the
nucleus of an otherwise ordinary galaxy switches on for a brief period to outshine all the other stars in
the galaxy put together by as much as a hundred times.
Tiona is the lead author on the paper and has worked alongside Dr Roger Clowes, also of the University
of Central Lancashire and Dr Luis Campusano of the University of Chile. They have completed a study
of 60 quasars in the nearby universe in order to collect new clues to the physical processes that make
quasars "switch on".
Tiona has been working in the USA with research collaborators in Tucson, giving seminars and
presenting the findings of her research to the AAS at Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The research group has identified two environments for quasars: either on the peripheries of clusters of
galaxies or at the junction where two galaxies are colliding. By developing new techniques for finding
clusters, Tiona Sochting and her colleagues have been able to identify the galaxy structures and prove
their association with the location of neighbouring quasars. Their results provide important insights
about the preferred locations of quasars and suggest strongly that more than one mechanism of their
fonnation will be needed to account for the different environments revealed by this study.
Dr Roger Clowes, a member of the research group and the University of Central Lancashire's Centre for
Astrophysics said: "To be selected by the American Astronomical Society is both an honour and a
recognition of achievement. It must be quite rare for a PhD student to be selected in this way. Tiona
deserves this success."
5 June, 2002

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