Guildford Astronomical Society

Dr Alasdair Thomson

Dr Alasdair Thomson is an eMERLIN Support Scientist and Postdoctoral Research Associate at Jodrell Bank Observatory, the University of Manchester. Originally from Ayrshire, he completed his undergraduate and PhD studies at The University of Edinburgh, and had a four-year stint working as a postdoctoral researcher at Durham University before arriving in “The South” (Manchester) in 2017. His research focuses on high-resolution (sub-arcsecond) radio and millimetre-wave observations of dust-obscured star-formation in the distant Universe, using telescopes such as the VLA, ALMA and eMERLIN.
DateTalk at GAS meeting
1 Apr 2021A Zoom Talk: Professional Radio Astronomy

The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) is planned to be the biggest and most complicated telescope ever constructed when it begins operations towards the end of this decade. Built from thousands of individual antennas across two continents and connected via optical fibre to a 100 petaflop supercomputer, SKA will deliver the sharpest, as well as the most sensitive images of the radio sky to date, allowing us to address several of the biggest open questions in contemporary astrophysics, including:
(i) how do galaxies form/evolve, and what is the nature of dark energy?;
(ii) was Einstein right about gravity?;
(iii) how were the first black holes and stars formed?;
(iv) are we alone in the Universe?, and more.
In this talk, I will introduce the SKA, give a brief overview of the need for (and techniques behind) radio interferometry, and will highlight some of the science projects which are already underway with SKA Precursor/Pathfinder telescopes (including the UK’s eMERLIN radio telescope) as the international science community prepares for SKA itself.