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Ordinary Meetings 2015

Meetings & Events | The Annual SPSP | National Events & News | Member Meetings | Astroimaging & Committee Meetings | AGM | I2A Course | Public OutreachSketching Comp | Astroimaging Comp

The Astronomical Society of New South Wales holds two meetings every month, on Friday evenings nearest Full Moon. At least one of the meetings will have a guest speaker who is a professional astronomer or other qualified specialist, discussing leading edge developments in astronomy. The other meeting sometimes has members making presentations of their own observations, telescope making, other related activities, discussing Society business etc. Details of these meetings will be posted below as information comes to hand. In 2015, one general meeting is scheduled, also on a Friday night: the Annual General Meeting (28 August 2015).

The Astroimaging Section meets separately, with meeting information on the Astroimaging & Committee Meetings page.

List of Past Speakers

Forthcoming Meetings in 2015

February 2015 | March 2015 | April 2015 | May 2015 | June 2015 | July 2015 | August 2015September 2015 | October 2015

Friday 6th February 2015 - 8:00pm
Topic:  Galaxy Spectroscopic Surveys at the Australian Astronomical Observatory
Speaker:  Dr Andrew Hopkins, AAO
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract:  The AAO has established itself as a world-leader in massively multiplexed spectroscopic surveys. Over the past two decades, the Anglo-Australian Telescope and the UK Schmidt Telescope have been used to complete six major spectroscopic survey projects that have had substantial impact on how we understand our Universe. There are currently four significant new projects under way, with another to start in 2016, exploring everything from the formation history of the Milky Way through measuring precision stellar chemical abundances, to the most ambitious cosmology measurements made to date. In this presentation I will discuss a recently completed project, GAMA, and some of its key scientific results to date.
I will also introduce the upcoming Taipan galaxy survey with the UK Schmidt Telescope, and the novel technologies being developed at the AAO to allow us to better understand the expansion rate of our Universe and the nature of galaxies.
Biography: Dr Andrew Hopkins is head of research and outreach at the Australian Astronomical Observatory.  He grew up in country New South Wales, and completed his undergraduate science degree and PhD at the University of Sydney. Andrew took up a postdoctoral position at the University of Pittsburgh in 1999, during which he was awarded a Hubble Fellowship by the Space Telescope Science Institute. After spending six years living in Pittsburgh, he returned to the University of Sydney in 2005 to take up an ARC Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship in the School of Physics. In 2008 he moved to the Anglo-Australian Observatory (now the Australian Astronomical Observatory) as the Head of AAT Science, and now as Head of Research and Outreach. In addition to his research, he has a passion for communicating science to school students and the general public. In 2006 heI was awarded a Young Tall Poppy of the Year award by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, giving him the opportunity to present his research to secondary schools around the state. He is also an active participant of several other science outreach programs, including Scientists in Schools and MyScience, all aimed at increasing awareness of and interest in science in primary and secondary students. 

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Friday 27th February 2015 - 8:00pm
Topic: Search for Water on Extra Solar Planets by Using Polarized Light
Speaker: Dr Lucyna Kedziora-Chudczer, UNSW
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: Water is an essential ingredient of life on Earth. If we detect water in liquid form on any extra solar planet, this will open an exciting possibility that life similar to our own can be present there. Water can be seen in gaseous form by observations of its absorption bands in optical and infrared planetary spectra. However the existence of liquid water can only be confirmed by polarimetry measurements. Stellar light reflected from planetary surfaces and atmospheres is linearly polarised, in contrast with the typically unpolarised stellar light. Therefore polarization signal from the planet can be visible in combined, stellar and planetary light. I will describe the physical effects that could be detected with sensitive polarimeters, that may ultimately reveal the existence of liquid water on exoplanets. At the UNSW we have have built such a cutting-edge polarimeter and started testing it at the 3.9m Anglo-Australian Telecope (AAT) at Siding Spring Observatory.
Biography: Dr Lucyna Kedziora-Chudczer is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of New South Wales. After completing her PhD on the radio variability of Active Galactic Nuclei at the University of Sydney in 1999, she became the AAO/ATNF Research Fellow at the Anglo Australian Observatory studying polarization properties and monitoring the intraday variable quasars. In 2003 she moved to the University of Sydney, where she was offered a position of the Harry Messel Research Fellow, and continued her work on both the polarization of compact radio sources and properties of our local Galactic Interstellar Medium. During this time, she also taught undergraduate courses and mentored the PhD students. In 2009 she accepted a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the UNSW in the area of planetary and exo-planetary research. She is a member of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology. Her interests include the spectroscopy and polarimetry observations of exoplanets, as well as the modelling of planetary atmospheres. She is also involved in the design and construction of the High Precision Polarimetric Instrument (HIPPI) that was commissioned at the AAT telescope in 2014.

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Friday 6th March 2015 - 8:00pm
Topic: A multi-wavelength study of the impact of AGN on their host galaxies
Speaker: Michael Cowley, Macquarie University
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: An active galactic nucleus, or AGN, refers to the existence of energetic phenomena at the central region of galaxies, which cannot be attributed directly to stellar emission alone. Extensive local surveys in the radio, infrared and X-ray domains have revealed a substantial population of these active galaxies, which are now known to be powered by the accretion processes of supermassive black holes. This raises the question if the enormous amounts of energy liberated by accretion has any impact on host galaxies. In light of this, many galaxy evolution models now incorporate AGN processes and have been successful in reproducing key observables for the co-evolution of AGN and galaxies. However, a reoccurring suggestion that AGNs play a role in the quenching of star formation in blue disk-like galaxies and their transition to red-dead ellipticals, remains a topic of hot debate. In an effort to help address this, we cross-match our near-infrared ZFOURGE catalogs with radio, x-ray and far-infrared sources to perform a multi-wavelength identification and investigation into the impact of AGNs on their host galaxies out to a redshift of z = 3.2. We compare the host galaxy properties (stellar populations, colours and morphology) of our AGN to those of a mass-similar sample of non-active hosts. In this talk, I will summarise my approach and present preliminary findings of the study.
Biography: Michael Cowley is a PhD candidate at the Macquarie University Research Centre for Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Astrophotonics. His research involves the study of active galactic nuclei and galaxy evolution using data from the FourStar Galaxy Evolution Survey (ZFOURGE), as well as the Chandra, XMM-Newton, Hubble, Spitzer and Herschel space telescopes. Michael completed his undergraduate studies at the Queensland University of Technology, achieving first-class Honours in astrophysics. His Honours thesis was on the detection, observation and characterisation of transiting objects via the Kepler telescope. In addition to his research, Michael has a keen interest in teaching and outreach. He is a science liaison for CSIRO's Scientists in Schools program and has also prepared and delivered a number of lectures, activities and public talks in astronomy and physics.

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Friday 27th March 2015 - 8:00pm
Topic: Dusty debris around sun-like stars as a sign of planetary systems
Speaker: Dr Jonathan Marshall, UNSW
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: Circumstellar debris discs around mature, main-sequence stars are a visible remnant of the planet formation process and therefore a marker of planetary systems around their host stars. These debris systems are tenuous rings of dusty material, comprised of bodies ranging from micron-sized dust grains to kilometre-size planetesimals (asteroids and comets), analogous to the asteroid belt and Edgeworth-Kuiper belt in our solar system. Most commonly detected from measurement of the thermal emission from their constituent dust at mid- and far-infrared wavelengths, a few systems have also been observed by starlight scattered from the dust at optical wavelengths. In this talk I will present imaging observations of debris discs, revealing how we trace the presence of unseen planets in the structure of the disc and how linking the three critical components of planetary systems - stars, planets and dust - into a single coherent picture will help us to identify the timescales and outcomes of planet formation, and therefore the incidence of planteary systems similar to our own elsewhere in the galaxy.
Biography: Dr Marshall gained his MSci degree at the University of St Andrws  and a MSc at the University of London.  He gained his PhD at the Open University.  His primary research interest iscircumstellar debris discs as evidence of planetary systems around mature, main-sequence stars.

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Friday 10th April 2015 - 8:00pm
Topic: Astronomical Timelapse:  My Perspective
Speaker: Greg Priestley, ASNSW
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: A run though of what I do and how I do it:

  • planning
  • equipment
  • setup
  • execution
  • workflow and tools
  • processing
  • results
  • success and tragedy

I will show a range of astronomical timelapses that I’ve shot over the past year or so.
Biography: Greg Priestley is an ASNSW member who has recently been specialising in Astronomical timelapse movies.

Back to topFriday 1st May 2015 - 8:00pm
Meeting is Cancelled

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Friday 22nd May 2015 - 8:00pm
Topic: The Universe from Space
Speaker: Dr Daniela Calzetti, University of Massachusetts
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: Over the past couple of decades Astronomy and our understanding of the Universe have been fundamentally changed by a wealth of space facilities, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Infrared Space Observatory, and the Chandra Space Observatory, and continuing in more recent years with the Spitzer and Herschel Space Telescopes, and GALEX, in addition to smaller missions. These facilities have offered humanity a previously unexplored (and unthinkable) window into the far reaches of our Cosmos. I review some of the salient results that have come from these telescopes, which are springboards for new discoveries to come with future facilities.
Biography: Daniela Calzetti is a Professor of Astronomy at the University of Massashusetts, Amherst (USA). Her scientific interests include the investigation of star formation and of the properties of the interstellar medium in nearby galaxies, which she uses to further our understanding of galaxy evolution. Before joining the University of Massachusetts, she was an Astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates the Hubble. Through this association and her science interests, she has used many of the astronomical space facilities launched over the past ~20 years, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Herschel Space Telescope, in addition to data from smaller missions (IUE, ISO, GALEX, etc.). She was the Blaauw Professor at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands) in 2013, and was a Raymond and Beverley Sackler Distinguished Visitor at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge (UK) in 2014. Since October 2014, she is a Lifetime Overseas Fellow of the Churchill College, Cambridge (UK). At the University of Massachusetts, she received the Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity in 2013, and has been awarded the Samuel F. Conti Faculty Fellowship for the academic year 2015-2016. 

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Friday 26th June 2015 - 8:00pm
Topic: Crash of the Titans: When Galaxies Collide
Speaker: Dr Amanda Bauer, AAO
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: What will happen to our Milky Way Galaxy when it inevitably crashes into the titanic Andromeda galaxy? A lot of change! No need to worry about this cosmic disaster during our lifetimes, though, as the head-on collision will occur in 4 billion years. Hopefully in that time we can come up with a name for the final galaxy system more interesting than Milkdromeda or Andromilky.
Biography: I am a Research Astronomer and Outreach Officer.
Research: I explore variations in how galaxies form, how they live their lives, and how they evolve into the diverse array of galaxy species we see today.  I use surveys with thousands or hundreds of thousands of galaxies, like the GAMA Survey (http://www.gama-survey.org/) and the SAMI Galaxy Survey (http://sami-survey.org/), to investigate what physical processes regulate star formation inside galaxies that live in different cosmic environments.
Outreach and Science Communication: In early 2015 I was named one of Australia's "Top 5 Under 40” science researchers and communicators. I was also a finalist in the national Fresh Science Media competition. I'm working to develop strategies to capture and communicate the excitement of new astronomical discoveries and innovative engineering feats occurring within the AAO and the astronomical community. I am a committee member of the Astronomical Society of Australia (ASA) Education and Public Outreach Chapter (EPOC) and co-chaired the Australian Astronomy Decadal Plan Working Group 3.2 on Education, Outreach, and Careers. In addition to curating AAO's social media presence on facebook, twitter @AAOastro and YouTube, you can find me blogging and on twitter @astropixie.

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Friday 3rd July 2015 - 8:00pm
Topic: Three Astronomical Talks for the price of one
Speaker: Andrew James, ASNSW
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstracts:
1. “Explaining Late-18th Century Visual Observations of the Phases and the Mountains of Venus”
2. “Observation and Frequency of the Aurora Australis in New South Wales”
3. “The New Sydney Observatory East Dome”
        1. The first talk is an extension of my formal published “Overview” paper in the RASNZ “Southern Stars” in March 2003, which I have greatly extended. In the last few months, I have obtained some of Schroter’s original publication and drawings (which is in German, and now translated.) A final paper should be published this year in the Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage (JAHH), being twice the length of the earlier paper. Those attending might like to read my summary article: “Johann Schroter, William Herschel and the Mountains of Venus: Overview”, which is available on-line at my ‘Southern Astronomical Delights’ website, at www.southastrodel.com/PageVenus005.htm
Although this discusses some issues with this topic, the presentation is about 80% new material.
        2. The second talk is a slow twenty-five year work of mine in collecting information of past aurora observations, which is aiming to look for the rough expected frequency of the Aurora Australis and the relationship to the 11.3 year long sunspot cycle. I have now uncovered thirty-six separate events between 1820 and 2015, having various observations and visual information. Highlighted are the extraordinary series of aurorae in 1859-60, including the effects of the famous Carrington event of the 1st-2nd September 1859. Others include the bright aurorae (some in series) seen in November 1870, 1872, 1880, 1894, 1909, 1921, 1947, 1982, 1990 and 2002-3. Especially noted is the last bright auroral events that occurred on 17th-20th March 2015 and the latest of 10th-11th April 2015. (Being today when I write this!) I conclude on how to observe and photograph aurora, how to get relevant activity and space weather information, to learn of the likelihood of seeing active aurorae.
        3. The third talk is about on the creation of the East Dome at Sydney Observatory, and my general role as a consultant on it design and disability access. There were some interesting issues with the design, which are relevant for amateur astronomy and construction of modern observatories. This building now also has an attached historical display of the old Melbourne Astrographic Telescope, which has its importance in history. Highlighted is my project on the open star cluster Jewel Box / NGC 4755 in Crux, with its long interesting association with Sydney Observatory.
        All three presentations have a couple of short two to three minute videos that I have recently created, plus plenty of pictures in PowerPoint presentations.
Biography: Andrew James is a long-time member of ASNSW and is currently the Deep Sky and Planetary Nebulae Section Leader and ASNSW Public Officer.

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Friday 24th July 2015 - 8:00pm
Topic: What’s the Matter with Massive Galaxies?
Speaker: Dr Richard McDermid, Macquarie University/AAO
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: Mass is a basic property of galaxies that is fundamental to understanding the ways in which galaxies form and evolve. However, accurate measurements of galaxy mass are complicated by the combined effects of dark matter, galaxy structure and stellar population uncertainties. The situation has recently improved thanks to new observational efforts to disentangle these components. Specifically, I will focus on recent results from the Atlas3D Survey: a multi-wavelength census of massive galaxies in the nearby universe.
Biography: Dr. Richard McDermid is a lecturer in astrophysics at Macquarie University, and holds a joint position with the Australian Astronomical Observatory. He obtained a doctorate in astronomy from Durham University in the United Kingdom, and has held postdoctoral fellowships at Leiden University in the Netherlands, and Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, before coming to Macquarie University. Richard’s field of research includes studying the evolution of galaxies, and measuring the properties of supermassive black holes, working with (and helping build instruments for) some of the largest telescopes on Earth.

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Friday 31st July 2015 - 8:00pm
Topic: Light and Astrophysics
Speaker: Dr Angel Lopez-Sanchez, AAO - Macquarie University.
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: 2015 was proclaimed by UNESCO as the "International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies" (IYL15). Light is the key piece of the Astrophysics we make today. Indeed, the main tool astrophysicists have to investigate the Cosmos is the study of the radiation we receive from the outer space. Thanks to the analysis of the light we know where stars, galaxies, and all the other celestial bodies are, what are they made of, how do the move, and more. Actually, much of the research we now do combines observing and analyzing light coming from very different spectral ranges, X rays, ultraviolet, optical, infrared and radio waves. In many cases, we are using techniques that have been known for only few decades and that are still waiting to be fully exploited. In this talk I will review what information can be achieved analysing! the light of the Cosmos in all wavelength and some! of the new technologies we're developing at the Australian Astronomical Observatory to get a better understanding of the evolution of the Universe.
Biography: I am a Spanish astrophysicist working at the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) and the Astronomy, Astrophysics and Astrophotonic Department of the Macquarie University (MQ) in Sydney (Australia). My research is focused in the analysis of star formation phenomena in galaxies of the Local Universe, especially in dwarf starbursts and spiral galaxies. I’m using a multiwavelength approach and hence I combine ultraviolet, optical, infrared, and radio data to characterize the physical and chemical properties of galaxies and get a better understanding of the physical processes than govern their nature and evolution.Outreach is a very important part of my work as a scientist. As an active amateur astronomer I enjoy observing the sky with my eyes, binoculars, or small telescopes and taking astronomical images using my own equipment. This webpage contains a large compilation of my images that includes galaxies, nebulae, astronomical observatories, time-lapse videos, and even drawings and photos taken using amateur techniques.

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Friday 21st August 2015 - 8:00pm
MEETING CANCELLED
This meeting has been cancelled. Members may wish to attend a venue involved in the World Record Stargazing attempts at Sydney Observatory, Oyster Bay Obsevatory (Sutherland Astronomical Society) or Mt Stromlo Observatory (Canberra).

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Friday 28th August 2015 - 8:00pm
Topic: Annual General Meeting
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: Includes presentation of annual reports and light supper.

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Friday 18th September 2015 - 8:00pm
Topic: Getting ready for the changing sky
Speaker:  Dr Orsola DeMarco
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: In this talk I will bring together planetary nebulae (PN) hydrodynamic simulations of binary interactions, intermediate luminosity optical transients and more in a review of the work past, present and future that's being carried out by our group. I will start the story with planetary nebulae and the realisation that by and large these nebulae are not the product of peaceful single star evolution. They are instead likely to be the result of a binary interaction. Among the many possible binary interactions, we studied the common envelope interaction which, aside from being responsible for one in five PN, is also the gateway to a staggering amount of binary phenomena, including supernova type Ia. Simulations of common envelopes are not very advanced, and we have shown recently just how much we do not understand, along with ways to improve. Aside from simulations, there are other ways to understand these interactions, and I bring observations and analytical considerations to bear on common envelope jets, proposing them as one of the best way to understand common envelopes. It is also likely, that many binary interactions have a light signature and indeed there are outbursts that were ascribed to common envelopes interactions and mergers, such as V838 Mon or V1309 Sco. Such observations will multiply with new time-sensitive observing platforms, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Interestingly, today we think that some nebulae, including some PN, may be the aftermath of these outbursts, observed a few hundred years down the line. Our simulations of a variety of interactions (from those with stars in eccentric orbits, to those where the companion is only a planet), attempt to explore parameter space, an exploration that will be enhanced by our new light module to model and predict light curves from transients.
Biography: Prof De Marco is originally from Verona in Italy, she gained her bachelors degree in Astrophysics at University College London followed by a PhD. She then worked at the American Museum of Natural History as a research fellow before moving to Macquarie University as an associate professor. She is currently a Professor and ARC Future Fellow at Macquarie University. Orsola's current research interests concentrate on observational and theoretical work on close evolved binaries. In particular she works on planetary nebulae and their central stars, and the hypothesis that they may be the result of binary interactions, rather than, as is traditionally believed, post-giant single star evolution. She coordinates an international consortium, PlaN-B (Planetary Nebula Binaries), to test the hypothesis that most-to-all planetary nebulae come from binaries.Back to top

Friday 25th September 2015 - 8:00pm
Topic: Astronomers in the Making
Speaker: Tash McFadden, Brendan Reinhart and Roy Truelove, Macquarie University
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: The inspiration behind future astronomers and their journey towards their dream careers. Each of us will discuss our reasoning behind taking our current degree and what we are hoping to pursue full time after uni life. I will also take a little about running the observatory at the uni. Brendan will take about the sorts of things we study in uni as well as the broad set of skills we learn. Roy will focus on why most students take and continue with astronomy.
Biography: Tash: Born and raised in Sydney, I have been studying physics from a young age. I currently study a Bachelor of Advanced Science in Astronomy and Astrophysics and run the Macquarie University Association for Astronomy where I organise most of our astronomical outreach programs.
Brendan: He decided to leave Canberra and move to Sydney to study a passion he had in Astronomy. He studies a Bachelor of Advanced Science in Astronomy and Astrophysics and volunteers at the Observatory. Brendan is one our highest ranking students.
Roy: Roy is extremely bright and very interested in Physics in general. He also moved from Canberra to Sydney to study a Bachelor of Advanced Science in Astronomy and Astrophysics. Roy also volunteers at the Observatory.

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Friday 16th October 2015 - 8:00pm
Topic:  What is A Galaxy?
Speaker:  Dr Megan Johnson, ATNF
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract:  

Galaxies make up the large-scale structure of the universe.  They are made up of stars, gas, stellar remnants, and contain an unknown substance tentatively called dark matter.  In this talk, I review our current understanding of what galaxies are, their structures, and place in the universe.

Biography:

Dr. Megan Johnson is currently an OCE postdoctoral fellow with ATNF.  Prior to this she held positions of NRAO postdoctoral fellow  an NRAO, Greenbank West Viginia and Predoctoral Fellow at Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff Arizona.

Dr Johnson gained her BSC at Northern Illinois University and MSc in Physics and PhD in Astronomy from Georgia State University.

Dr Johnson's research interests include Dwarf galaxies, Starburst galaxies, Galaxy evolution, Galaxt radio continuum Observations and combining single dish and interferomter radio observations.

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Friday 23rd October 2015 - 8:00pm
Topic:   Rocking the cradle - Black holes and young radio galaxies with the SKA
Speaker:   Dr James Allison,  CSIRO, Astronomy and Space Science
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract:  

The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a world-class radio telescope under construction in Murchison, WA. Radio astronomers at CSIRO and the University of Sydney are already using ASKAP to look for small changes in the radio signal from distant super massive black holes. Swirling gas around the black hole absorbs the radio signal, which is then detected at the telescope. Only a few thousand years old, but billions of light years away, we are studying how these young radio galaxies switch on and the devastating affect they have on their natal environments. 

Biography:

I am a radio astronomer and astrophysicist at CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science. As a member of the science team for the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder, I specialise in the detection of atomic hydrogen gas in distant galaxies. I completed my doctorate in astrophysics at the University of Oxford, where I used data from a radio telescope to observe microwave radiation from the earliest moments of the Universe.

Prior to my current role as a Bolton Fellow at CSIRO,  I was an ARC Super Science Fellow at the University of Sydney and a post doctoral research assistant at Oxford.

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Friday - 8:00pm
Topic:
Speaker:
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract:  
Biography:

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