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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

Two scientists part of team that discovers the source of the highest energy cosmic rays at the centre of the Milky Way
2016-03-22

Description: Giant molecular clouds  Tags: Giant molecular clouds

Artist's impression of the giant molecular clouds surrounding the Galactic Centre, bombarded by very high energy protons accelerated in the vicinity of the central black hole and subsequently shining in gamma rays.
Artist's impression: © Dr Mark A. Garlick/ H.E.S.S. Collaboration

Spotlight photo:
Dr Brian van Soelen and Prof Pieter Meintjes of the UFS Department of Physics.
Photo: Charl Devenish

H.E.S.S. (High Energy Stereoscopic System) scientists publically revealed their latest galactic discovery in the international science journal, Nature, on 16 March 2016. These scientists were able to pinpoint the most powerful source of cosmic radiation – which, up to now, remained a mystery.

Part of this team of scientists are Prof Pieter Meintjes and Dr Brian van Soelen, both in the University of the Free State (UFS) Department of Physics. Dr Van Soelen explains that they have discovered a proton PeVatron – a source that can accelerate protons up to energies of ~1 PeV (10^15 eV) – at the centre of the Milky Way. The supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A has been identified as the most plausible source of this unprecedented acceleration of protons.

The protons are accelerated to Very High Energy (VHE) gamma rays. The energy of these protons are 100 times larger than those achieved by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research).

According to Dr Van Soelen, the fact that this research has been published in Nature demonstrates the importance and pioneering nature of the research conducted by H.E.S.S. The H.E.S.S. observatory – operational in Namibia – is a collaboration between 42 scientific institutions in 12 countries.

In 2006, H.E.S.S. was awarded the Descartes Prize of the European Commission – the highest recognition for collaborative research – and in 2010 the prestigious Rossi Prize of the American Astronomical Society. The extent of the observatory’s significance places it among the ranks of the Hubble Space Telescope and the telescopes of the European Southern Observatory in Chile.

“The next generation VHE gamma-ray telescope,” Dr Van Soelen says, “will be the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), which is currently in the design and development stage.” Both Dr Van Soelen and Prof Meintjes are part of this project as well.

H.E.S.S. has issued a complete statement about the paper published in Nature.

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