Professor Stephen Smartt
Professor at the Astrophysics Research Centre
Astrophysics Research Centre, School of Mathematics and Physics
Professor Smartt is an astrophysicist specialising in surveying the sky for transient and explosive events.
Professor Smartt is one of the global leaders in astronomy in the field of sky surveys and astrophysical transients. He has led innovative international projects that survey the sky to find supernovae and exploding stars. Using the Hubble Space Telescope, he has directly identified which stars explode as supernovae making a series of discoveries that advanced our understanding of what causes these brilliant flashes of light across the Universe. He has discovered the most powerful of these explosions, called “super-luminous” supernovae and with his team proposed that the theory of magnetic neutron stars causes their extreme brightness. In 2017, he led one of the international teams to pinpoint the source of gravitational waves, showing that merging neutron stars can produce a brief but luminous explosion powered by radioactivity of the heavy elements.
Areas of Expertise
astrophysics, space, supernovae, exploding stars
Professor Smartt has engaged extensively with local, national and international media. He has been interviewed by various media, including live and recorded TV, live and recorded radio, and podcasts.
- ESO Telescopes Observe First Light from Gravitational Wave Source, European Southern Conservatory, 16/12/2017
- Gravitational waves from colliding neutron stars usher in new era of astronomy, Astronomy Now, 16/10/2017
- Black hole 'swallowed star', say Queen's astronomers, 13/12/2016
- Uma explosão violenta nunca antes vista intriga astrónomos, Tempo 11/01/2019
Associated Research Centres / Projects
- Principle Investigator of the major European project PESSTO “Public ESO Spectroscopic Survey for Transient Object"
- Professor Smartt is now the UK project scientists for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope which will be the biggest sky survey undertaken when it starts in 2022.
- Professor Smartt is an elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy and, in 2018, was awarded the Royal Astronomical Society’s George Darwin Lectureship.