Henney is an astronomer at the Instituto
de Astronomía of the Universidad
Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
He arrived in Mexico in 1992 as a postdoctoral researcher
at the UNAM's main campus
in Mexico City, obtaining a permanent position a
few years later.
the last five years, William has worked in the colonial
city of Morelia, in the Mexican state of Michoacán,
where the UNAM is developing a new campus devoted
to research and graduate teaching..
coming to Mexico, William studied at the Universities
of Oxford and Manchester in the United Kingdom.
His recent work on planetary nebulae, although a
new departure in some respects, can also be seen
as a return to old themes:
very first research project as a PhD student in
Manchester was to study the dynamics of nebulae
around symbiotic stars, which are very similar to
planetary nebulae in many respects."
main object of William's current
research is the Orion
nebula, one of the closest regions to Earth
where very massive, bright stars have recently formed.
His work combines observations with simple physical
models and computer simulations. He is particularly
interested in the objects known as proplyds,
which are believed to arise when young low-mass
stars, still surrounded by a disk of gas and dust,
are exposed to the strong ultraviolet radiation
in the interior of the nebula. He has also worked
on the shock waves driven by stellar jets, particle
winds, and supernova explosions, and on the scattering
of light by grains of dust.
have always been attracted by the visual aspect
of astronomy. However, it is important not to lose
oneself in the pretty pictures. The most satisfying
aspect of my work is when complex-looking data can
be understood in terms of simple physical principles.
Of course, since our understanding is only ever
partial, there is always more work to do ..."
from his astronomical work, William is also in charge
of the computer network in his institute. He is
also an editor of the Mexican academic astronomy
Mexicana de Astronomía y Astrofísica),
where he has been responsible for modernizing the
production process and producing an electronic edition.
he is not
working, William enjoys swimming, playing with
his son's Lego,
and relaxing in his hammock with the London
Review of Books.