Simon Blouin receives the 2020 Plaskett Medal

The Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) awarded the J.S Plaskett Medal for 2020 to Simon Blouin for the best doctoral thesis in astrophysics in Canada.

Simon Blouin completed his PhD thesis in 2019 at the Département de physique of the Université de Montréal, under the supervision of Professor Patrick Dufour. Dr. Blouin’s thesis focuses on cool white dwarf stars. These stars, being among the oldest in the Milky Way, represent a unique opportunity to date stellar populations and thus better understand the evolution of our Galaxy. This dating is based on a comparison between theoretical models of white dwarf atmospheres and observations made with a telescope. Until recently, available models have struggled to replicate observations of cool white dwarfs, meaning that the ages and other parameters obtained from these models could not be trusted. During his doctorate, Simon Blouin used theoretical techniques conventionally used in plasma physics and in condensed matter physics to improve the accuracy of the models. These new models are now in excellent agreement with observations of cool white dwarfs, which makes it possible to confidently determine the properties of these objects and sometimes even the properties of planets, comets or asteroids which have been accreted by these stars.

Since July 2019, Dr. Blouin is a Director’s Postdoc Fellow at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. After focusing on the atmosphere of white dwarfs during his doctoral studies, he is currently conducting research aimed at improving our understanding of the interior of these objects. He is particularly interested in the crystallization of the cores of white dwarfs, a crucial phenomenon in the evolution of these stars during which the liquid interior solidifies.

The Centre for research in astrophysics of Quebec (CRAQ) congratulates Simon Blouin for this prestigious award.

About the Plaskett Medal

The Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) inaugurated a price, the Plaskett Medal, in recognition of the important role played by John Stanley Plaskett (1865-1941) in the development of astrophysical research in Canada. The price, consisting of a gold medal, is awarded each year to the PhD graduate from a Canadian university with the most remarkable PhD thesis in astrophysics in the preceding two years. The laureate is then invited to give a conference lecture at the CASCA annual meeting.

Several former student members of the CRAQ have received the Plaskett Medal, including Pierre Bergeron (UdeM, 1990), Paul Charbonneau (UdeM, 1991), Pierre Brassard (UdeM, 1993), Alain Beauchamp (UdeM, 1997), Stéphane Charpinet (UdeM, 1999), Christian Marois (UdeM, 2005), Frédéric Grandmont (ULaval, 2007), Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay (UdeM, 2012), Anne Archibald (McGill, 2015) and Jonathan Gagné (UdeM, 2016). The CRAQ is proud to say that its members (and former members) have received 11 out of the 33 annual Plaskett Medals.

Robert Lamontagne
Public outreach
Centre de recherche en astrophysique du Québec
Phone : (438) 495-3482