Researcher Makes Astronomical Discovery

December 20, 2013

BRANDON, MB – A Brandon University (BU) radio astronomer may soon have the honour of naming a new discovery in the night sky.

Dr. Tyler Foster, Department of Physics and Astronomy, pinpointed what he believes to be the remains of an exploded star, a supernova remnant, during research this past summer at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in BC. He will verify the results later this month with observing time awarded to his group on a radio telescope in Effelsberg, Germany which is 100 meters across and, for decades, was the largest steerable telescope of any kind in the world.

“The object’s temporary name is G181.2+9.5,” says Dr. Foster, “which refers to its coordinates in the Milky Way Galaxy. After we validate and publish the discovery, I could rename it. But I’ll leave that to the astronomy community. I’m too modest,” he laughs.

To date, fewer than 300 supernova remnants have been discovered, although scientists estimate ten times that number should exist. Dr. Foster is credited as discoverer/co-discoverer of 11, including a pair of supernova remnants found in 2011 with BU alumnus Brendan Cooper (now enrolled in a Master’s Degree in Radio Astronomy at the University of Calgary) using a new data processing technique the two had developed.

“Radio astronomy gives us a deeper glimpse into the cosmos,” says Dr. Foster, “without the distortion experienced by visual telescopes due to the Earth’s atmosphere, or the dimming effect caused by the light’s travel through the very dusty space between the stars. It will be quite exciting to confirm our latest discovery using one of the largest telescopes in the world.”

BU Dean of Science, Dr. Andrew Egan, says, “Dr. Foster’s work is another example of the world-class research being conducted by Brandon University, adding to a greater understanding of the universe and ourselves.”

Brandon University, founded in 1899, promotes excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship; educating students so that they can make a meaningful difference as engaged citizens and leaders.

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For more information, please contact:
Dr. Tyler Foster
Department of Physics and Astronomy
204-727-7457 or 204-727-9693
fostert@brandonu.ca
Glen Kirby
Communications Officer
204-727-9762
kirbyg@brandonu.ca