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Last Updated: Friday, 2 December 2005, 11:17 GMT
50,000 prize for galaxy hunter
Hubble Space Telescope, Nasa
Dr Bunker and his team use the Hubble telescope in their research
An academic at a Devon university has been awarded a prestigious prize to further his research into the most distant galaxies.

Dr Andrew Bunker, a lecturer at the University of Exeter's School of Physics, has been awarded the 50,000 Philip Leverhulme prize.

Dr Bunker is on the European team which is building an instrument for the James Webb Space Telescope.

It is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, set to be launched in 2014.

'The early universe'

Dr Bunker, 34, who took up a lectureship in physics at Exeter last year, said it was a "great honour" to receive the prize.

He and his research team use the Hubble Space Telescope and the largest telescopes on the planet to discover the most distant objects ever seen, up to 12,000m years away.

Light from these structures has been travelling more than twice the Earth's age to reach us.

"This will enable me to focus on my research into galaxies in the early universe," he said.

"I will be getting sophisticated computer equipment to analyse these images, as well as being able to travel to work with my colleagues around the world and use international telescopes."

The prizes are given to young academics from across the UK to further their research and create world-class research teams in Europe.

The 25 awards are given across a broad range of subjects, from Engineering to Philosophy and Modern Languages.

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