PhD Student Zhuokai Liu wins Kavli Institute Images Contest

Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard)

Peking University PhD student Zhuokai Liu won the inaugural Vision of Science contest, awarded by the Kavli Foundation to five images from researchers at the 20 Kavli Institutes.  Liu obtained a remarkable image of comet C/2021 A1, also known as Leonard, revealing the nucleus and a long tail.

The image was obtained on a 180-mm aperture remote telescope on a platform, Interestar, in Chile that Liu set up with several friends.  The image was obtained using separate RGB filters with a monochrome camera.  The active tail of the comet changed over a few minutes, leading to the rainbow-like colors -- the tail looked different in each image from the three filters.  The same telescope also joined in the MicroFUN team to help discover a super-earth extrasolar planet in July 2021.

Liu is currently in his first year of the PKU PhD program in astronomy.  His research focuses on using microlensing to find exoplanets, under the supervision of Prof. Subo Dong.

A total of five images won the inaugural Vision of Science contest in 2022. The other award-winning images were a photo of the olfactory organ of a zebrafish, astroglial cells of a zebrafish, a girl looking through a telescope, and swirls of a superfluid around a quantum vortex swirl. More information can be found here