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Growing up in Outer Space

Ia from Georgia grew up in an observatory on a mountaintop, listening to star talk

It is as if Ia has always been in Outer Space.

Her mother is an astronomer too. She and Ia used to live in a high mountain observatory in her native Georgia, and Ia spent days listening in on her mother’s long astronomical discussions with her colleagues.

Eight years old, Ia found an astronomy textbook by John Fix. For the little girl, the pictures it contained were an enigma that triggered her imagination even further, sending her mind wandering into dark places.

Lyman Alpha galaxies

Now, at the Dark Cosmology Centre (DARK), Ia Kochiashvili is doing her PhD on something that only telescopes can observe, out there, closer to the beginning of the Universe.

»After the Big Bang, there were the Dark Ages, where there were no emissions. Galaxies started to emit light at about 480 million years after the Big-Bang. We study these celestial objects,« she explains.

She is particularly interested in what scientists call the ‘Lyman Alpha emission line galaxies’, named after the part of the electro-magnetic spectrum in which they can be seen.

New data coming

At present she is looking at the Southern Hemisphere night sky.

Looking is actually just a metaphor for what she does: Based on a system of numbered co-ordinates, she observes objects in the form of images and spectra from the Paranal Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, constructed with 8.2 metre mirrors on the top of Paranal mountain in Chile.

»Next month we will have the data from the other telescope called Vista. This is very important for me and my thesis!« she says with excitement.

Read article, Scientists gravitate towards Dark here.

No other place

When away from her screens at the office, Ia is an avid walker. Both in Denmark, and when she is home visiting friends and family in Georgia: She recently hiked 60 kilometres in one day with her friends. Spending 20 hours, they climbed up to the lake Jazis Tba at 2500 metres altitude and the mountain Mephis Tshkaro at 2850 metres.

A long, long walk under the canopy of stars, but no big deal for Ia. She has done the trip three times already.

Back from the Caucasus, Ia doesn’t want to be anywhere else, doing anything else, than what she is doing, right now, at DARK in Copenhagen. She calls it the »best institution of Cosmology in the world.«

»Doing my PhD here, is the best thing that has happened to me in my life. When I wake up in the morning I sometimes feel chosen. It makes me happy, but it also puts a huge responsibility on me«.

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