Emily Petroff, astronomer of the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy ASTRON, is one of the contenders for the title New Scientist Science Talent 2018. From 24 April to 6 May the public will be able to vote and determine who will receive the award for the most talented young researcher from the Netherlands and Flanders at the New Scientist Live event on 31 May.
Published by the editorial team, 24 April 2018
Universities and institutes from the Netherlands and Flanders were allowed to put their talents forward. The editors of New Scientist have compiled a top 25 out of more than fifty entries. Petroff is one of 25 talented researchers who have survived the first round.
Petroff is studying Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) at ASTRON. These are bright, powerful flashes of radio waves that last only a few milliseconds. The first burst was only recently discovered in 2007. And since then only about fifty have been observed. The flashes are still a mystery: nobody knows exactly how they originate. Probably they come from other galaxies and are caused by compact, high-energy objects such as neutron stars or black holes.
Emily Petroff tries to find more FRBs and find out where they come from. She hopes not only to discover their cause, but also to learn more about the Universe. Petroff was the first scientist to catch a FRB in the act, after which telescopes all over the world were activated to search for the source. In addition, she already solved one of the many riddles in her research field. Bursting signals that had been captured by the Australian Parkes telescope turned out to be no Fast Radio Bursts on closer inspection: the signals were caused by microwave ovens near the telescope.