Mullard Space Science Laboratory

P R E S S  R E L E A S E
22 June 2005

MSSL summer student has an eye for greatness!

An MSSL summer student, Khee Gan Lee, has been awarded first prize in the Royal Astronomical Society's Science Writing competition for his article 'An eye for greatness: the Hubble Space Telescope'.

During an internship at Space Telescope Science Institute during the summer of 2004 Khee was able to interview the director of the Institute, Dr. Steven Beckwith. His winning article discusses the role of the Hubble Space Telescope, its ranking amongst the worlds most important observatories and what the future holds for HST.

Khee Gan said, "My original inspiration to take up a scientific career was through the writings of Carl "Fire up the rockets" Sagan and other writers, thus I have always been interested in doing the same, 'passing the torch', so to speak."

Khee, who is also an undergraduate at UCL, has been working with Kinwah Wu and Graziella Branduardi-Raymont on the X-ray reflection spectra of accretion disks around supermassive black holes in Active Galatic Nuclei.

This image shows a model of an accretion disc around a super massive black hole. These black holes warp space-time, and make light appear to bend, which leads to the unusual shape of the object.


The summer project is funded by the Nuffield Fundation through their summer research bursary scheme for undergraduate students. Khee Gan will use calculations by Steven Fuerst from MSSL, along with existing spectral
models, to properly represent the X-rays from the accretion disk region close to the event horizon of the black holes. The new spectra that Khee Gan will generate will be crucial for the correct interpetation of black holes and for analyzing current data from XMM-Newton and Chandra and future data from missions like XEUS.

Khee Gan has had his winning article published in the RAS's Astronomy & Geophysics magazine and won 200 pounds in prize money.

The article can be found here:

For more information on the Nuffield Foundation click here:



Notes to Editors:

Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL

MSSL is situated in Holmbury St Mary between Dorking and Guildford, and is the Space and Climate Physics Department of University College London. The Group moved from London to Holmbury St Mary in 1965 after Holmbury House was purchased with funds donated by the Mullard electronics company. 150 scientists work at MSSL across 5 groups; solar and stellar physics, planetary and plasma physics, astrophysics, detector physics and climate physics. The laboratory houses world-class facilities to design, build and test instrumentation as well as analyse the data taken by the instruments in space.


Dr Lucie Green
Mullard Space Science Laboratory
Tel: 01483 204100 (Switchboard)