Timothy John O'Brien

Timothy John O'Brien (born 31 March 1964) is a British astronomer, currently working at the University of Manchester as Professor of Astrophysics. He often appears on the BBC.[4][5]

Tim O'Brien
Timothy John O'Brien

(1964-03-31) March 31, 1964
Alma materUniversity College London (BSc)
University of Manchester (PhD)
Known forMulti-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network (MERLIN)[1]
AwardsKelvin Prize (2014)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Manchester
Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics
Liverpool John Moores University
ThesisA model for the remnant of the recurrent nova RS Ophiuchi (1985) (1990)
Doctoral advisorFranz Daniel Kahn[2][3]

Early life and education

He was born in Littleborough, Greater Manchester, the same day as the Conservative former MP Mark Hoban (for Fareham). He grew up on the A664 in Castleton, Greater Manchester (next to the M62) in the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale.[6] He has a younger sister (born 1965) and a younger brother (born 1967). He attended school in Rochdale.[7] He studied Physics and Astrophysics at University College London. He studied for a PhD at the University of Manchester from 1985-88.

Career and research

He taught at the University of Liverpool in the 1990s. He began working at the University of Manchester in 1999 where he is currently Associate Director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. He is also Director of Teaching & Learning in the University's School of Physics & Astronomy. From 2009-2015, he taught the first year undergraduate course in Astrophysics.[8]

His research is primarily in the area of novae (thermonuclear explosions on white dwarf stars in binary star systems) and includes both theoretical work and observations using telescopes around the world and in space working across the electromagnetic spectrum.


He has appeared on Stargazing Live on BBC Two and The Infinite Monkey Cage on BBC Radio 4.[9][10]

Personal life

He is married to Professor Teresa Anderson (born 1 December 1962).[11] He lived for a time in Macclesfield. He lives in south Manchester.


  1. Healy, F.; O'Brien, T. J.; Beswick, R. (2016). "eMERLIN imaging of γ-ray nova V959 Mon's surprising evolution". Journal of Physics: Conference Series. 728: 042002. doi:10.1088/1742-6596/728/4/042002. ISSN 1742-6588.
  2. Dyson, James E.; Lynden Bell, Donald (1999). "Franz Daniel Kahn. 13 May 1926 -- 8 February 1998: Elected F.R.S. 1993". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 45: 255–267. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1999.0017. ISSN 0080-4606.
  3. Timothy John O'Brien at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  4. Newsround February 2016
  5. BBC Inside Science February 2016
  6. Rochdale January 2014
  7. Cheshire Magazine August 2016
  8. Astrophysics
  9. EuroScience Open Forum 2016
  10. Newsround February 2017
  11. Wife
Academic offices
Preceded by
Professor of Astrophysics at the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Manchester
Succeeded by
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