The Department of Astro-Physics (DAP) hosts a team of researchers of international stature eager to promote excellence in basic research in general and in astrophysics in particular. They publish a Newsletter and maintain the present web site, both of which provide useful information. Led by Dr Pham Ngoc Diep, DAP includes a research team and an outreach team.
The research team analyses radio-astronomy observations using the world best performing interferometer arrays and single dish telescopes. In particular, they make extensive use of archival observations from the Atacama Large Millimetre (sub-millimetre) Array (ALMA). They publish their results both on their own and in collaboration with colleagues in Paris and Bordeaux. Between 2014 and 2018 they have published 18 articles in international refereed journals with one of them as first author and an average of only 17% of other authors. Their interest covers stellar physics and galaxies of the early Universe. In stellar physics, they study proto-stars and young stellar objects on one hand, and evolved stars, mostly from the Asymptotic Giant Branch, on the other. Their study of the early Universe uses observations of high redshift galaxies, usually gravitationally lensed. In both domains their goal is to obtain a precise and reliable description of the morphology and kinematics of gas and dust in the observed targets with the aim to improve our understanding of the underlying dynamics. The staff includes, in addition to Dr Pham Ngoc Diep and to Pr Pierre Darriulat, Dr Pham Thi Tuyet Nhung, Dr Pham Tuan-Anh, Dr Do Thi Hoai, a PhD student, Nguyen Thi Phuong and a master student, Tran Thi Thai. The team hosts also occasional visitors, such as Nguyen Bich Ngoc who joined the team at the end of 2018.
The outreach team, Mai Thuy Dung and Pham Vu Loc, is led by Dr Nguyen Thi Thao. They are dedicated to the exploitation of the facilities of the Hoa Lac Observatory, near Ha Noi, including a 50 cm optical telescope and a planetarium. They promote the opportunity of using the optical telescope for universities and amateur astronomer clubs. To the former it provides access to a highly performing scientific instrument, with which bachelor and master students can be trained and learn the constraints of rigor and professionalism inherent to the practice of science. To the latter, it offers an opportunity to observe the night sky with one of the best instruments available in the country. A Space Museum is under current installation. DAP as a whole is attentive to contributing to outreach by helping with the organization of the yearly Science Day, by training the Vietnamese team to the International Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiads and by having frequent contacts with amateur astronomy clubs.
The four senior members of the research team are lecturing bachelor and master courses at the University of Science and Technology of Ha Noi (USTH). They host USTH bachelor and master students and supervise their work on the occasion of short internships.
The DAP staff are actively contributing to the South East Asia Astronomer Network (SEAAN), to the East Asian Observatory that operates the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, to the International Centre for Interdisciplinary Science and Education in Quy Nhon (ICISE), helping with the organization of conferences and schools. The research team collaborates with Asian colleagues on programmes of the East Asian Observatory such as BISTRO and NESS. In 2018, they organized in Nha Trang, together with the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT), a workshop of the International Training Centre for Astronomy aimed at training ASEAN university lecturers.
Both VNSC/VAST (salaries) and the funding agency NAFOSTED (project money) contribute to the wages of the staff, which however are extremely low. The running budget, which would be necessary for attending conferences and schools both at home and abroad as well as for a proper exploitation of the Hoa Lac facilities, is negligible. Support from various foreign organizations in the form of fellowships (Odon Vallet and World Laboratory) or of contribution to living and travel expenses on the occasion of conferences and schools (mostly from France, Japan, Korea and Taiwan) is therefore highly welcome.