Cork teen astronomer Cormac Larkin gets asteroid named in his honour

23 May 2017

Image: Alexyz3d/Shutterstock

Cork student Cormac Larkin celebrated a double win at the Intel ISEF event in Los Angeles last week, and now an asteroid is being named after him.

This year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) has proven to be a successful one for Irish students on both sides of the border, as all three participants walked away with a prize.

SciFest 2016 winner Caolann Brady was expected to do well with her project that focuses on the natural treatment of asthma through humming and breathing techniques, as opposed to using inhalers and nebulisers.

Sure enough, the Kildare native took the second award spot in the Biomedical and Health Sciences strand of ISEF, winning a prize of $1,500.

Winning streak

But the biggest winner at the event, from an Irish perspective, has been Cork student Cormac Larkin, who is travelling back to Ireland with not only two awards, but a special honour as well.

The Coláiste An Spioraid Naoimh student began his winning streak by picking up the Priscilla and Bart Bok First Award and $1,000 for his project entitled: ‘Case study of Data Mining in Observational Astronomy: The search for new OB stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud’.

This was followed by the grand event where Larkin celebrated a second place finish in the Physics and Astrophysics category, along with another $1,500 in prize money.

Now, in honour of his recent contribution to the field, Larkin will have an asteroid named after him and an opportunity to present his research early next year at the American Astronomical Society winter meeting.

Star researchers

Larkin’s research led to the development of a new approach to identify massive stars rapidly, even in the midst of a heavily populated part of the universe known as the Small Magellanic Cloud.

These large stars are eight times bigger than our sun and, although they are very bright in ultraviolet light, this light is readily blocked off by interstellar dust and our own atmosphere.

Meanwhile, Grosvenor Grammar School student Gareth Reid from Belfast walked away with a prize of $1,000 for his project, ‘Can Machines Learn to Design Better than Humans?’.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic