A key member of the Liverpool Telescope Gamma-Ray Burst Team, Professor Andreja Gomboc at the University of Nova Gorica in Slovenia, has received the 2015 Zois Award for her study of Gamma Ray Bursts.
The Zois award is the highest Slovenian state award for scientific research. Professor Gomboc is a former Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow at Astrophysics Research Institute of LJMU, and she maintains close collaboration with the LJMU GRB team. The LJMU GRB team, led by Professor Shiho Kobayashi, Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics, and Professor Iain Steele, Liverpool Telescope Director, uses the robotic Liverpool Telescope for rapid follow-up observations of GRB afterglow.
GRBs are the most violent explosions in the Universe, related to the death of massive stars, compact stellar mergers and their consequent black hole formation. The LJMU team, including Professor Gomboc, recognised early on that polarization measurements of afterglow light can provide precious information about magnetic fields in these explosions. Such information is crucial to understand a long-standing problem in astronomy - the acceleration process of relativistic jets.
The team developed a novel type of instruments – rapid response RINGO polarimeters, especially designed to catch the transient afterglow. This programme has led to the publication of a series of high impact papers in Nature and Science, and it was awarded the prestigious Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) Research Project of the Year and LJMU Vice Chancellor's Award for Research, Scholarship and Knowledge Transfer 2014.
The strong international research profile of the LJMU GRB team was further proved by the Zois Award for Professor Gomboc.
Professor Gomboc recently presented the highlights of the team's research in her TEDxLjubljana talk in front of 1500 audiences (in Slovenian language).