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Physics Department News

Tom Marsh awarded RAS Herschel Medal

Professor Tom Marsh of the Astronomy and Astrophysics group has been awarded the prestigious Herschel Medal by the Royal Astronomical Society.

Professor Tom Marsh has undertaken pioneering research into close binary star systems for the last 30 years. Foremost among his numerous contributions has been the development of the Doppler Tomography technique, which was first described in a landmark paper in 1988 co-authored with Professor Keith Horne. The method uses phase-resolved spectra to construct two-dimensional velocity-space images, allowing astronomers to break the diffraction limit of conventional imaging.

Its application reveals the micro-arcsecond structure of close binary star systems, delivering accurate masses for white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes. The technique unveils the detailed structure of accretion flows, including the intricate structure of accretion streams and hot-spot dynamics. It also led to the discovery of the theoretically anticipated spiralwave patterns that appear in accretion discs during dwarf nova outbursts. Doppler Tomography has been applied to hundreds of binary systems by numerous researchers, leading to a much improved understanding of accretion disc physics.

For these reasons, Professor Marsh is awarded the Herschel Medal.

Mon 15 January 2018, 14:13 | Tags: Staff and Department, Awards, Faculty of Science

R.W.B. Stephens Prize

Claire Thring (PhD student in the Ultrasound Group) has been awarded the R.W.B. Stephens Prize at the 2017 International Congress on Ultrasonics, which was held in Honolulu, Hawaii, Dec 18-20th 2017. The prize is given in recognition of outstanding work in ultrasonics and the excellent presentation of the results, and is sponsored by Elsevier and the journal Ultrasonics.

Wed 03 January 2018, 14:44 | Tags: Postgraduates, Awards

Pettifer Prize 2017


The Pettifer Prize is presented annually to the Physics student with the best overall performance in first year examinations, and it honours the memory of Dr Robert Pettifer, who joined the department in 1972 until his retirement due to ill-health in 2007.

The prize was presented by David Leadley and also by Robert’s wife, Mary Pettifer.

The winner this year was Nicholas Metcalfe.

More information on the prize can be found at

Tue 31 October 2017, 12:10 | Tags: Undergraduates, Awards

Celebrating our People: Rachel Edwards

Rachel Edwards, Associate Professor (Reader) in the Physics department, was the winner of the Public Engagement University Award. She writes about her work and what winning this award means for her and the department.

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