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Astronomer at Queen University is 'delighted' by UK science honour

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Elected: Professor Stephen Smartt

Elected: Professor Stephen Smartt

Elected: Professor Stephen Smartt

A Queen's University astronomer has received the highest recognition of scientific endeavour in the UK.

Professor Stephen Smartt has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) 2020.

Recognised internationally, it is a major national honour. Past Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society have included Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Dorothy Hodgkin and Stephen Hawking.

Professor Smartt directly discovered the stars that explode as supernovae for the first time using the Hubble Space Telescope.

He leads several teams that survey the sky every night, constantly scanning the data for anything that changes with computer algorithms.

He uncovered evidence that massive stars can either collapse quietly to form black holes or produce the most luminous explosions in the Universe.

He also led one of the teams that detected the source of gravitational waves, showing that merging neutron stars produce the heaviest radioactive elements in the periodic table.

Professor Smartt is a global pioneer in the field of digital, time domain sky surveys.

He said he was "honoured and delighted" to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

"It is a huge privilege to join other scientific giants who have been appointed to the Society over the years, in recognition of my work and the level of scientific achievement at Queen's," he said. "Science impacts on all our lives, no more so than at present, and I look forward to progressing the Society's purpose of promoting excellence in science and using it for the benefit of humanity."

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said: "At this time of global crisis, the importance of scientific thinking, and the medicines, technologies and insights it delivers, has never been clearer. Our Fellows and Foreign Members are central to the mission of the Royal Society, to use science for the benefit of humanity."

Belfast Telegraph