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Professor Roy Maartens (2012)

Professor Roy Maartens, SKA Research Chair, AstroPhysics Group, Physics Department, UWC


Roy Maartens did his PhD in Cosmology with George Ellis at the University of Cape Town. He currently holds an SKA/ SARChI Research Chair at the University of the Western Cape. He was Director of the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG), University of Portsmouth, UK from its inception in 2002 until 2010, during which time the ICG has become one of the top cosmology research groups in the UK. He has published over 150 papers in refereed journals and has 15 papers with over 100 citations each. Roy held a Senior Research Fellowship from the UK Particle Physics and Astrophysics Research Council, 2002-05, and was a member of the UK Particle Astrophysics Advisory Board, 2005-07. He was on the Advisory Councilof the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and is an editor of the journal General Relativity and Gravitation. 12 of his research students have been awarded PhD degrees, and he has supervised over 20 postdoctoral researchers. Roy and his research team are developing the techniques that are needed to exploit the SKA for answering some of the big questions in cosmology.


The SKA and the accelerating Universe

The SKA will be the biggest ever radio telescope array, able to reach even further into space and back in time, and to resolve even finer features than ever before. This will revolutionize radio astronomy and cosmology – and will also have a major impact on South Africa and its African partners, who will host about 70% of the SKA. Indeed, the SKA success signals a new dawn for science in Africa, helping to tap into the vast potential of the continent. I will describe these developments, and then go on to discuss one of the big science questions that the SKA will help to answer: Why are the galaxies flying apart from each other faster and faster instead of slowing down as expected? What is the nature of the mysterious ‘Dark Energy’ field that is driving this acceleration of the Universe? Or is the acceleration a signal of the breakdown of Einstein’s theory on the largest scales?