NASA's release of images from the James Webb Space Telescope has been thrilling scientists around the world - including the team at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) who had a hand in building it.
DIAS contributed to the design and fabrication of one of four science instruments on the Webb - the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).
Dr Paddy Kavanagh from DIAS also participated in commissioning the instrument at the Webb Mission Operations Center in Baltimore.
Studying the stunning images published today, he said: "It's a bit overwhelming at times! I tried not to think about it when I was doing the work. It was great to be led here in Ireland by Prof Tom Ray, who is an amazing scientist and has led Ireland's involvement in JWST.
Images from the #JamesWebbSpaceTelescope have been thrilling people around the world - including the Irish scientists who helped build it. One of them, Dr Paddy Kavanagh, left school at 16 but was persuaded to go back into education. He has been reaching for the stars ever since pic.twitter.com/xHDPIKOBTm— RTÉ News (@rtenews) July 12, 2022
"When you see the news coverage this is getting... and this is just the beginning! These images are the deepest views we've ever had of the universe and they were taken in just 12 hours. And this thing is going to be observing for years and years."
Dr Kavanagh's own career has been all about reaching for the stars.
He first left school at 16 and went back to education to achieve a PhD later with his mother's support.
"It's certainly one of my proudest moments as an astrophysicist and in life as well. I did walk away from school when I was 16. And it was really my mother who knew that I could do whatever I wanted to do and pushed me back into it. And it was when I got there, and I had great teachers, that I realised how much I loved science and physics.
"I had an interest in astronomy before that. But that gave me an opportunity to really try and make a career out of it. And if I didn't make it, then at least I tried. But I worked hard and I got lucky at times. And today I'm standing here talking about the deepest image of the universe that has ever been taken!"