Journey into Astrophysics

13 Jun 2016 - 11:30

Buntu Ngcebetsha

Buntu spent his early school years in the Eastern Cape before coming to Cape Town, where he completed his matric.  His earliest interests in astronomy were in Grade 6 where he became fascinated by a lesson on planets by his maths teacher. He then continued reading about astronomy in the local library, taking books home and TV shows such as Buzz Lightyear and other such programmes made me even more fascinated about space and space travel.

Buntu's grade 12 maths teacher brought him to UCT and encouraged him to apply in 2007.  He didn't think he stood a chance of getting in, so he was reluctant to apply, but his teacher offered to pay the application fee.  He was accepted into the 3 year programme for a double major in Physics and Astrophysics.  Buntu later joined the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP) honours programme, whereafter he embarked on his Masters.

This year, Buntu started off the year going for two months to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in the USA, under the guidance of Professor Tom Jarrett and Dr Kartik Sheth, who were the advisors on his project.  Buntu has just completed his MSc with a thesis entitled, "Star formation in the bars of nearby barred galaxies", in which he studied a sample of seventy barred galaxies within 20 Mpc and observed the star formation activity in the bar region.  He did this by mapping out the location and number of young massive stars in relation to the location of the rest of the bar region of each galaxy.  

Buntu comments, "I have had a good opportunity to network with international astronomers and to present at a conference and this really good experience has inspired me to go on with more years of studying and living the academic life".  He has just embarked on PhD studies with the South African Astronomical Observatory. (SAAO).