Making cosmology more attractive

Mathematical modelling is being applied to the study of the universe by Professor Sunil Maharaj at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in his Research Chair for Gravitating Systems.

He explains that gravity is a fundamental force in cosmology and astronomy that can be put into mathematical language, thereby developing new knowledge of cosmology and the system of galaxies. His research is trying to uncover galaxy structures, where they come from and how they have evolved.

This work is important for the development of local skills and for improving our understanding of the observations that are currently being recorded at the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) in Sutherland as well as the findings that are expected to come from the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

The latter, according to Maharaj, will increase the data on the Universe by a hundredfold, which will require a large pool of skilled scientists to analyse the data.

His Chair is therefore instrumental in building up this skills base and has already made an enormous contribution to his ability to supervise post-graduates working in the field of astrophysics and cosmology.


He currently has 10 Master’s and doctoral students as well as three post-doctoral fellows registered, which he believes would not have been possible without the support of the Chair.

He has also been able to establish the Astrophysics and Cosmology Unit at the university, which has broadened the study into related fields and has had the added benefit of increasing the number of post-graduates and post-doctoral fellows involved in this field.

Another upside to the Chair is that the number of research papers being published has increased fivefold, while international collaboration is adding to the prominence of his work.

Maharaj says this increased profile and new projects such as the SKA have elevated astronomy and astrophysics to the mainstream of South African academia, which will have important implications for the country’s ambitions to stake a claim in the global space community.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Advertorial
Guest Author

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

How smuggled gold destined for Dubai or Singapore has links...

Three Malagasy citizens were apprehended at OR Tambo International airport, but now the trail is found to connect to France and Mali

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

More top stories

Mpumalanga premier fined for attending Mthembu funeral without a mask

Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane goes into isolation and pledges to buy 1000 masks to show her ‘remorse’

Searching for Chippo: How experts have been tracking the elusive...

There have long been sightings of hippos in the city’s leafy northern suburbs, says a specialist team

BMW X7: Is this the peak of our greed?

Even next to its luxury peers, the seven-seat behemoth is a little too much

Africa and the US under the Biden administration: A response...

A democratic administration is likely to revert to the US’s default position on global affairs, which doesn’t leave much for Africa to celebrate
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…