Friday 2nd June 2017 - 8:00pm
Topic: Magnetism: from the Earth to the Cosmos
Speaker: Dr Cormac Purcell, Macquarie University
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: The growth of all galaxies is fed by the diffuse matter in the spaces between stars. This 'interstellar medium' (ISM) is a frothy soup of gas and dust, ionised by stellar radiation, swept up into filaments and shells, and guided by magnetic field lines. In order to understand the evolution of the Universe we must trace the flows of energy and matter in the ISM over time. Shockingly, the cosmic magnetic field is one of the least understood components of the ISM! A revolution in radio-telescope technology in Australia is now poised to change all that. In this talk, I will introduce the listener to magnetism, explaining its history, origin and effect on Earth. We will journey out through space peering at magnetism through the Milky Way and on towards the earliest galaxies in the universe. I will outline the key role Australia is playing with the development of the Square Kilometer Array and pathfinders.
Biography: Dr Purcell is a research astronomer with over 14 years experience of survey astrophysics. He started his career investigating high-mass star formation by observing molecules emitting in stellar nursery clouds. After completing his PhD, he mapped bubbles of hot gas formed around high-mass stars as they evolve. He became an expert in radio-interferometry, using the Very Large Array and the Australia Telescope Compact Array to resolve fine details on the radio sky. He is currently investigating magnetism in the Milky Way and preparing for new "big data" surveys on the next generation of telescopes under construction. He obtained his Bachelor's degree in applied Physics at Dublin City University and his PhD at the UNSW. Following this, he held post doctoral positions at The University of Manchester, University of Leeds, University of Sydney and currently is a postdoctoral fellow at Macquarie University.