Tim O'Brien

Professor of Astrophysics and Associate Director of Jodrell Bank Observatory

I am a Professor of Astrophysics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Manchester. I am also an Associate Director of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, with responsibility for Public Engagement and Communications, and Associate Dean for Social Responsibility in the University's Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

My research concentrates on the study of exploding stars using telescopes around the world and in space, working across the spectrum from radio waves to X-rays.

I teach undergraduate and postgraduate students and also carry out a wide range of public engagement activities including being the primary media contact for Jodrell Bank. This includes work with the media, schools and events at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre.


Email: tim.obrien@manchester.ac.uk
Twitter: @tim_o_brien
Blog: proftimobrien.com

Manchester: +44 (0) 161 275 4165
Jodrell Bank Observatory: +44 (0) 1477 57 1321


My research interests lie in the broad area of astrophysical gas dynamics mainly applied to circumstellar phenomena.

These include theoretical and observational studies of classical and recurrent nova explosions, supernovae and planetary nebulae.

I combine modelling with observation at wavelengths ranging from the radio to the X-ray.

Click here to obtain a list of my research papers from the Smithsonian/NASA Astrophysics Data System.

Reseach group: Sun, Stars and Galaxies
VLBA radio image of the expanding shock wave in RS Ophiuchi (O’Brien et al 2006).
VLBA radio image of the expanding shock wave in RS Ophiuchi (O’Brien et al 2006).


My current teaching responsibilities include:

  • Introduction to Astrophysics and Cosmology - the core astrophysics course for first year undergraduates in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester. Around 260 new students of physics get to hear all about the Universe from me.
  • I teach a postgraduate course on Python programming as part of Phys 60441: Techniques of Radio Astronomy.
  • I supervise MPhys undergraduate research projects including my development of the web-controlled 7-m radio telescope at Jodrell Bank and a new remotely-controlled 11-inch optical telescope.

For ten years from 2000 I was responsible for the development and delivery of a programme of part-time undergraduate distance learning courses in astronomy. The programme comprised four courses: Life in the Universe and SETI, Introduction to Radio Astronomy, Exploring the Radio Universe and Frontiers of Modern Astronomy. This included worked with colleagues at Liverpool John Moores University, the University of Central Lancashire and the Open University on collaborative e-learning programmes.

Public engagement

I am very active in public engagement with science and scientific research. This inludes appearances in the media, work with schools and the general public. As Associate Director of Jodrell Bank Observatory I am responsible for coordinating outreach activities from the wider astrophysics group at Manchester and dealing with media relations.

See Tim's recent public engagement projects

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