The sky is anything but the limit for Penwortham woman Claire Burke.
For, if you thought extra-galactic activity was something for Hollywood space films, think again as 27-year-old Claire is researching just that.
The former Priory High School pupil is currently working in South Africa as a post-doctoral fellow exploring how the universe evolved.
Since leaving school she has been hooked on reaching for the stars and has travelled the globe looking at some of the largest and older structures in the universe.
Claire he puts her initial interest down to her science teacher Jo Gough who helped to inspire her interest in the stars, galaxies and the universe.
She said: “Mrs Gough was exceptionally inspirational.
“She had plenty of enthusiasm for physics and helping us understand how it really is the most fundamental science.
“She was also good at explaining ‘dry’ topics in an interesting way - comparing the movement of electrons through metal being compared to carrying pints of beer across a crowded bar.
“Every new topic was presented in an energetic style and, when I came to learn about stars and the universe, I fell completely in love.
“The beautiful pictures of things that exist in our universe, the explosive lives of stars and the most fundamental questions of where it all came from had me completely fascinated.”
After leaving school with 12 GCSEs in 2003 Claire went on study A-Levels at Runshaw College before graduating from Manchester University following a four-year MPhys degree in physics and astronomy.
She then completed her PhD in astrophysics at Liverpool John Moores University.
Claire added: “I have just started my first post-doctoral research job in South Africa – I have been here for two months – carrying out research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban.
“I am hoping to have an exciting career in research, working at some of the most prestigious universities in the world and pushing back the forefronts of astronomy.
“I want to help to answer the questions of where it all came from and how stars, planets and people were created after the Big Bang billions of years ago.”
Both staff and pupils at her old school can study for GCSE astronomy after the school recently added it to the curriculum.
So far 30 students have signed up to the course which will take place every Friday after school- and they will be sitting alongside several of their teachers who are also keen to boost their astronomy knowledge.