Dr Mathilde Jauzac
Dr Mathilde Jauzac.

Dr Mathilde Jauzac, a former UKZN Astronomy postdoctoral researcher from France; and current honorary lecturer at UKZN’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit, has been awarded the 2017 Department of Science and Technology-National Research Foundation’s Fellowship for Early Career Researchers from the United Kingdom. This prestigious fellowship was awarded on the basis of Dr Jauzac’s current research titled: Mapping Dark & Luminous Matter in and around Massive Clusters of Galaxies. The fellowship is awarded to post-doctoral researchers based in the United Kingdom who engage in high impact research and enables them to work at a South African research institution.

Dr Jauzac is using gravitational lensing in order to trace the total mass of galaxy clusters and then combines this with multi-wavelength observations in order to trace the “visible” matter (stars and gas). Subtracting this from the total mass of lensing, enables the amount and distribution of dark matter to be recovered. Comparing that with numerical simulations allows for the derivation of constraints on the physical nature of dark matter.

‘The DST-NRF Fellowship represents an amazing opportunity. I’m really happy to be able to come back to UKZN and South Africa more generally, for a few months to work with the people here. It’s a really dynamic environment,’ Jauzac said.

Dr Jauzac is no stranger to the media. In 2013, she made international headlines when she used the Hubble Space Telescope to discover the three-dimensional structure of a cosmic filament associated with a different galaxy cluster. In 2014, her work was again covered by international media when she measured the mass of a merging galaxy cluster named MACSJ0416, to the highest precision yet.

Words: Merissa Naidoo