Scientists invited to take advantage of the world's leading high energy research centres

Posted by ap507 at Jul 13, 2016 01:35 PM |
University of Leicester is facilitating a programme for astronomers to take advantage of European facilities and expertise

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 13 July 2016

The University of Leicester is facilitating a Europe-wide programme that makes available some of the leading facilities in high energy astrophysics to scientists from around the world.

Professor Paul O’Brien from the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, is the lead of the call to provide free access to cutting edge X-ray and gamma-ray data analysis methods including use of data tools, archives and space instruments to scientists working within Europe and internationally.

The programme aims to widen opportunities for scientists to exploit both European-funded and international X-ray astronomy facilities and X-ray data archives in order to enhance high-energy astrophysics across Europe. 

The activities, which include tutorials and mentoring by experienced scientists at the delivery institutes, are particularly designed to assist relatively inexperienced users in smaller institutes. 

Professor Paul O’Brien said: "The University of Leicester is a world centre for high energy astronomy and the AHEAD project will help us train the next generation of scientists. Visitors get expert help including access to data while we encourage the dissemination of our experience to new users of facilities we helped to build.

“The AHEAD programme provides expert training and access to world-class research institutes. We particularly encourage applications from young scientists, and over the next three years dozens will have the opportunity to learn how to make new discoveries about the most powerful energy sources in the Universe.

“The project is designed to help new users and broaden the group of users for high energy facilities on an international level, thereby making them more aware of the University's research programme."

The first visitor to Leicester, Giacomo Cannizzaro from INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma said: “During my visit I was able to get hands-on experience on the processing of data acquired by the Swift satellite. This one week visit was very pleasant and useful while working in a very friendly environment, I was also able to talk with other researchers about topics which I am interested in pursuing later in my research career.”

The programme forms part of the AHEAD (Integrated Activities for High Energy Astrophysics) project funded under the European Union Horizon 2020 Research Infrastructure Program.

The AHEAD project is led by Professor Luigi Piro, from INAF, Istituto Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Rome who said: “The AHEAD project provides the backbone for the High Energy Astrophysics community in Europe.  Our consortium comprises among the best centers in the field, with 26 institutes and one space company from 16 countries in Europe. We want to keep our community at the cutting edge of science and technology in this highly competing research field and to strengthen the infrastructure for the development of future space observatories, with particular regard to Athena, the future large space Observatory for X-ray astronomy.”

A key goal of AHEAD is to integrate and open research infrastructures for high energy astrophysics and to offer a wide programme of transnational access (TNA) to the best European test and calibration facilities and training/mentoring on X-ray data analysis.

The delivery Institutes that are available to researchers interested in data analysis are:

• Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester

• SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research

• Department of Astronomy, University of Geneva

• National Institute for Astrophysics, INAF

• Bologna: INAF-OABO, INAF-IASFBO in collaboration with the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Bologna University

• Palermo: INAF-OAPA

• Rome: INAF-OAR

• Institute of Astronomy Astrophysics, Space Applications & Remote Sensing (IAASARS), National Observatory of Athens

• AIM / Service d'Astrophysique, CEA Saclay


Notes to editors:

For more information contact Paul O’Brien on

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 654215.

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