College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Safari Experience for Astronomers

Safari Experience for Astronomers

Getting leading international Astrophysicists to go on safari together does not happen very often but UKZN’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit did just that when they held another installment of their extremely popular Cosmology on Safari conference events.

The conference was attended by local astronomers as well as colleagues from Harvard University in the United States, the University of Cambridge in England, the University of Sydney in Australia, and several other leading institutions who presented their research, discussed problems and – during downtime – went on safari together.

The Anew Hotel Hluhluwe & Safaris near the popular Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal was the venue for the conference held to discuss relevant theories, datasets and the future direction of cosmology – the study of how the universe is expanding.

Scientists debated fascinating topics such as dark matter and dark energy, supernovae, and the large scale structure of the universe.

With the conference bringing together experts in a wide variety of fields, discussions effectively shed more light on these phenomena as well as generating possible solutions for important questions in astronomy.

The conference gave South African postgraduate students an opportunity to interact with distinguished international research leaders in astronomy, in particular students being trained to work on UKZN’s HIRAX telescope who engaged in face-to-face collaborations with international colleagues.

‘A wide variety of topics in cosmology were covered by leading experts. A highlight for me was seeing the latest results from cosmic microwave background experiments searching for the polarised signal due to primordial gravitational waves,’ said UKZN Astrophysicist and member of the local organising committee, Professor Matt Hilton.

Words: Bavani Naidoo

Photograph: Kabelo Kesebonye