Two Irish students from Synge Street School in Dublin have won joint first prize in the EU Contest for Young Scientists in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Mark James Kelly, 18, and Eric Doyle, 17, won the top award in the physics category.

Their project, "Simulation accuracy in the gravitational many-body problem", followed up on a 2008 breakthrough by Irish scientist Dr Diarmuid Ó Mathúna in the field of celestial mechanics.

The first prize is worth €7,000 to the two students.

EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn has congratulated the students.

She said their work on simulating how objects respond to gravity in certain environments could have many practical applications, not least in space exploration.

"Their project builds on the ground-breaking work of Diarmuid Ó'Mathúna, a great Irish scientist who has clearly inspired the next generation.

"I wish both Mark and Eric well in their studies, both having got their first choice to do First Science at UCD and Theoretical Physics at Trinity."

She said that Ireland and Europe needed more young scientists to step up and make the important breakthroughs for the future.