Dr Cosimo Inserra of Cardiff University has won the European Astronomical Society’s Merac Prize for Observational Astrophysics, recognising the best early career researchers. Dr Inserra is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and obtained his PhD in 2012 from the University of Catania. He subsequently held positions at Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Southampton, and received the RAS Winton Award in 2017. He moved to Cardiff University in 2018, becoming the principal investigator of the largest worldwide spectroscopic survey in time-domain astronomy (ePESSTO+).
The award of the Merac Prize recognises his work in investigating the extremes of stellar explosions, providing a pioneering contribution to understanding their crucial role in astronomy and astrophysics. His work presented the first sample analysis of a newly-discovered class of supernovae that defied previous knowledge of these events, linking them to newborn magnetars - stellar remnant neutron stars with extremely strong magnetic fields. Dr Inserra also discovered a twin class of superluminous supernovae, objects bright enough to be seen at huge distances, giving astronomers fundamental insights into the early Universe.
Philip Diamond, RAS Executive Director, said: “It’s wonderful to see an early career researcher like Dr Inserra making such an important contribution to science. My congratulations to him!”
The EAS press release has full details of all the 2021 prize winners.