During the Netherlands Astronomy Conference in Nunspeet, the Pastoor Schmeits Prize for astronomy will be awarded to Dr. Jason Hessels - affiliated with both ASTRON and the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy of the UvA (University of Amsterdam).
The prize is awarded every three years to a Dutch astronomer who has made a scientific contribution of exceptional importance before the age of 40. The prize board choses the winner based on nominations from the Dutch astronomical community.
Jason's research focuses on the study of radio pulsars and so-called "fast radio bursts", objects that emit very strong radio emission for a short time. The radio pulsars are associated with neutron stars, the remnants of massive stars; the origin of the fast radio bursts is still unclear, but they appear to be objects well outside our Milky Way galaxy.
Jason was involved in a number of important discoveries in this area of research: the fastest-rotating pulsar, a pulsar in a system consisting of three stars (a double-double star) and most recently a repeating fast radio burst, which showed eleven eruptions since 2012.
Jason is also one of the pioneers of pulsar research with the new radio telescope LOFAR. This research is groundbreaking and rewarded with several prestigious research grants from NWO and the European Research Council. Jason also recently became a member of the Young Academy of the KNAW.