Armagh Star Honoured in India

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Dr Naslim Neelamkodan receiving her award

The south Indian state of Kerala has honoured Dr Naslim Neelamkodan, a recent student at the Armagh Observatory, for her discovery of the  most zirconium-rich star currently known to science. 

Naslim was awarded her doctorate from the Queen’s University of Belfast in July 2012 for research on chemical abundances in helium-rich subdwarf B stars, carried out at the Armagh Observatory under the supervision of Professor Simon Jeffery. She has been honoured for her discovery, in 2010, of a star shrouded in clouds of zirconium, some 2,000 light years away. Zirconium oxide is a diamond substitute frequently used in jewellery, whilst zirconium carbide is used to make drilling tools.  It is estimated that the zirconium layer seen in the star LS IV-14 116 would weigh about 4 billion tons.

Naslim was presented with her award during a special function at the Kerala State Science and Technology Museum in Trivandrum, capital of Kerala, organised by the Kerala State Higher Education Council on 27 December 2012. G. Karthikeya, speaker of the Kerala State legislative assembly, said "It is a matter of great pride for everyone in the State that a girl who was born and brought up at Edakkara in Malappuram district, and who completed her basic education here, has achieved something like this". Other speakers at the function said Dr. Neelamkodan was the perfect role model for students in the State, especially with regard to promoting pure science courses.

27-year old Naslim was born and educated in a remote village in Kerala, southern India. She followed her passion for astrophysics to study first at the University of Calicut in Malappuram, and then the Mahatma Ghandi University in Kottayam. After moving to the Indian Institute of Atrophysics in Bangalore, she won a studentship at the Armagh Observatory to study for her doctorate. She has recently started a research post in the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Academica Sinica (ASIAA), Taiwan. 

Professor Simon Jeffery said: "It gives me immense pride to see Naslim honoured in this way; she was one of the most charming and hardest working students I have had the privilege to work with. She is a courageous and committed young woman who continues to produce top class science."

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; FAX: 028-3752-7174; jmfat signarm.ac.uk. Naslim Neelamkodan Tel.: 886-2-3365-2200; FAX: 886-2-2367-7849; General: asiaaat signasiaa.sinica.edu.tw; Media Request: epoat signasiaa.sinica.edu.tw

Last Revised: 2013 January 25th