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CAS News & Events


8 Mar 2017

CAS receives silver Pleiades Award

The Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing (CAS) has been recently endorsed by the ASA’s executive committee with a Silver Pleiades Award.

The Pleiades Awards scheme aims to encourage organisations to adopt practices that promote awareness of unconscious bias, encourage full participation of women at all levels of professional life, and to recognise the importance of work-life balance in enabling the career development trajectory of many women.

CAS previously was awarded Bronze status, and the new Silver status is now valid for 2017-2018.


14 Nov 2016

Cosmic 'barcode' from distant galaxy confirms Nature's constancy

CAS PhD student, Srdan Kotus, and Prof. Michael Murphy have precisely measured the strength of a fundamental force of Nature in a galaxy seen eight billion years in the past. The measurement is the most precise yet: they found that electromagnetism in this galaxy was the same as here on Earth within just one part per million - about the width of a human hair compared to the size of a sports stadium.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


3 Nov 2016

Theoretical Astrophysics Observatory Funding Success

The Swinburne-led Theoretical Astrophysics Observatory (TAO; https://tao.asvo.org.au) was recently awarded $107,000 from NeCTAR/NCRIS/AAL to begin development of TAO v4 in 2017. TAO v4 will build a joint collaborative space within TAO, called TAO for Teams (TfT). TfT will enable groups of astronomers expanded access to a common TAO working space where they can construct, discuss, and share TAO-build mock galaxy catalogues to achieve their science objectives. TfT will be particularly valuable for the recently announced CAASTRO-3D Centre of Excellence, where it will act as the national simulation/modelling data hub for the expansive CAASTRO-3D theory program.


1 Nov 2016

Astronomy research projects kick-started with new funding successes

From projects exploring gas flows around growing galaxies and hunting for the descendants of near-extinct galaxies to searching for dark matter in gold mines, Swinburne astronomy has enjoyed great success in the Australian Research Council funding round.

Three Discovery Projects provide the funding to bring further world-class astronomers to Swinburne University to explore a range of galaxy questions.
Dr Glenn Kacprzak and Prof Michael Murphy will explore the physics of gas flows around galaxies and the peak epoch of star formation using the Keck Cosmic Web Imager, one of the most powerful visible light telescopes on Earth.
Prof Alister Graham will hunt for the descendants of an allegedly near-extinct species of galaxy, done through the analysis of near-infrared satellite images of many massive galaxies.
Prof Duncan Forbes will aim to solve an 80-year-old mystery of how lenticular galaxies form in various environments using the latest multi-wavelength observations and powerful computer simulations.

Finally, Dr Alan Duffy and Prof Jeremy Mould will look for an invisible and still unknown type of mass holding the galaxy together with SABRE, the world's first dark matter detector in the Southern Hemisphere, as part of a LIEF grant led by University of Melbourne's Prof Elisabetta Barberio.


11 Oct 2016

Who stole all the stars?

Investigating the millions of missing stars from the centres - or cores - of two big galaxies, astronomers at Swinburne University of Technology say they may have solved this cosmic whodunit, and the main culprits are not the usual suspects.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


8 Sep 2016

The ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions funded for 7 years!

The ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (CAASTRO-3D) aims to answer fundamental questions in Astrophysics: the origin of matter and the periodic table of elements, and the origin of ionisation in the Universe. Australia has built the 3D innovative technology and developed the expertise that will be combined by CAASTRO-3D to make a transformative impact on our understanding of the Universe. CAASTRO-3D will unify world-leading Australian optical and radio surveys with theoretical simulations and new e-Science techniques for Peta-scale data sets, while nurturing young scientific leaders and inspiring high-school students into STEM sciences through wide-reaching education and outreach programs. Swinburne is one of six Australian University nodes in CAASTRO-3D, with Prof. Karl Glazebrook, Associate Prof. Emma Ryan-Weber and Prof. Darren Croton all leading critical areas of the Centre's research and technical programs.


8 Aug 2016

Space oddity in the nearby Universe: the case of a galaxy with too much gas

Astronomers at Swinburne University of Technology have discovered a rare galaxy with an atomic hydrogen gas reservoir of almost 8 billion times the mass of our Sun which, intriguingly, is forming very few stars.

In most of the galaxies in the nearby Universe, the rate at which stars are born is strongly dependent on the availability of gas: the higher the gas content, the more stars are formed. Using large galaxy surveys carried out in recent years by the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the GALEX space telescope, the researchers were able to study the relationship between gas content and star formation in a sample of 800 galaxies. The discovered galaxy GASS 3505 had a huge gas reservoir, yet it had a very low level of star formation. This makes GASS 3505 an extremely rare galaxy.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


6 May 2016

Double 'peanut shell-shaped' feature of a galaxy discovered

Swinburne astronomers have discovered an unusually shaped structure in two nearby disc galaxies.The distribution of stars bulging from the centre of these galaxies' flattened discs resembles two peanut shells, with one neatly nested within the other.

The Swinburne team recently developed new imaging software that led to this discovery. Using data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the researchers realised that two of the galaxies they were studying - NGC 128 and NGC 2549 - were quite exceptional. They displayed a peanut shell configuration at two separate layers within the galaxies' three-dimensional distribution of stars.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


17 Jul 2015

Swinburne Astronomy Productions receives David Allen Prize

Swinburne Astronomy Productions has been awarded the 2015 David Allen
Prize by the Astronomical Society of Australia. The team comprising
Russell Scott, Sam Moorfield and Christopher Fluke were recognized for
their exceptional achievement in astronomy communication. For more than a
decade, Swinburne Astronomy Productions has inspired a fascination in the
Universe through the creation of cinema quality animations and imagery.
Their work is featured in the AstroTour program at Swinburne's Hawthorn
campus and the IMAX movie Hidden Universe 3D (2013), produced in
partnership with December Media and Film Victoria.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


13 Jul 2015

Virginia Kilborn has been appointed President of the Astronomical Society of Australia

Swinburne astronomer A/Prof. Virginia Kilborn has been appointed President of the Astronomical Society of Australia the professional body representing Australian astronomers.


25 Jun 2015

Matthew Bailes awarded an Australian Laureate Fellowship

Matthew Bailes has been awarded a prestigious Laureate Fellowship by the Australian Research Council. Matthew's proposed research focusses on radio transients, especially Fast Radio Bursts.

Laureate Fellowships recognise outstanding leaders, and will provide Matthew and his team with funding to transform the largest telescope in the southern hemisphere into a machine that will attempt to count the number of atoms in the Universe. Matthew's team is a world leader in advanced radio astronomy instrumentation.

The Fellowship provides $2.8M in funding over 5 years and will bring many new postdoctoral positions into CAS.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


30 Apr 2015

The Dark Matter

Surprising gravitational similarities between spiral and elliptical galaxies have been discovered by an international team, including astronomers from Swinburne University of Technology, implying the influence of hidden forces.

In the first such survey to capture large numbers of these galaxies, researchers have mapped out the motions of stars in the outer parts of elliptical galaxies using the world's largest optical telescope at W M Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

"By combining Keck telescope time from Swinburne and the University of California, we were able to investigate a larger number of galaxies which allowed us to make this important discovery", Swinburne's Professor Duncan Forbes said.

The team, led by Michele Cappellari from the University of Oxford, used the powerful DEIMOS (DEep Imaging and Multi-Object Spectrograph) to conduct a major survey of nearby galaxies called SLUGGS, which mapped out the speeds of their stars.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


27 Feb 2015

Galactic dinosaurs not extinct

One of the biggest mysteries in galaxy evolution is the fate of the compact massive galaxies that roamed the early Universe.

Astronomers at Swinburne University of Technology believe they have discovered the answer.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


27 Jan 2015

Black holes follow a predictable rule in relation to the galaxy in which they are located

Rather than having random sizes, massive black holes seem to follow a predictable rule in relation to the physical properties of the galaxy in which they are located. Research at Swinburne University of Technology has shown that it is possible to predict the masses of black holes in galaxies for which it was previously thought not possible.

In large galaxies, the central black hole is related to the mass of the spheroid-shaped distribution of stars at the centre of the galaxy, known as the galaxy's 'bulge'. Some astronomers have claimed that the size of black holes at the centres of galaxies with small bulges was unrelated to the bulge. Now, after studying more than 100 galaxies with black holes 4 to 40 times less massive than our Milky Way's black hole, they too have been found to follow this same rule.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


19 Jan 2015

First fast radio burst caught in real time

Using CSIRO's 64-m Parkes radio telescope, Swinburne PhD student Emily Petroff has for the first time seen a "fast radio burst", a short, sharp flash of radio waves from an unknown source - happening live.

Lasting only milliseconds, the first such radio burst was discovered in 2007 by astronomers combing the Parkes data archive for unrelated objects. Six more bursts, apparently from outside our Galaxy, have now been found with the Parkes telescope and a seventh with the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico.

Astronomers worldwide have been vying to explain the phenomenon. "These bursts were generally discovered week, months or even more than a decade after they happened" Ms Petroff said."We are the first to catch one in real time."

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


10 Dec 2014

Jeff Cooke wins 2014 Vice-Chancellor's Research Excellence Award

Congratulations to CAS's Jeff Cooke for winning the 2014 Vice-Chancellor's Research Excellence Award for "significant contributions to astrophysics and innovative approaches to progress our understanding of the early Universe".

We also congratulation Luca Cortese for receiveing a Highly Commended Mention in the Vice-Chancellor's Research Excellence Awards for "successfully co-leading the Herschel Reference Survey, the largest census of nearby galaxies ever performed by the Herschel Space Observatory".

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


3 Dec 2014

Astronomers detect galactic atomic hydrogen at record breaking distances

Using Arecibo, the world's largest radio telescope, Swinburne astronomers have detected the faint signal emitted by atomic hydrogen gas in galaxies three billion light years from Earth, breaking the previous record distance by 500 million light years.

The survey of nearly 40 galaxies at distances up to 3 billion light years, led by Barbara Catinella and Luca Cortese, have found a unique population of galaxies hosting huge reservoirs of hydrogen gas, the fuel for forming new stars.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


6 Nov 2014

Swinburne welcomes funding boost from ARC grants

Swinburne University has received a funding boost of almost $5 million from the Australian Research Council (ARC) to undertake work that will expand Australia's knowledge base and research capability.

Swinburne astronomers were awarded two Discovery Project grants and two Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) grants.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


19 Sep 2014

3D IMAX film Hidden Universe recognised at research commercialisation awards

Swinburne's 3D IMAX initiative "Hidden Universe", Australia's first IMAX film, was awarded the People's Choice Award at the inaugural Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia Research Commercialisation Awards announced last night in Brisbane.

The awards recognise research organisations' success in creatively transferring their knowledge into the broader community and transferring their research into products or services with companies to grow new industries in Australia.

Hidden Universe was one of seven finalists in the inaugural awards, winning the People's Choice category by almost 100 votes. The film was also nominated for Best Creative Engagement Strategy. Hidden Universe premiered in June 2013 and has been seen by more than 700,000 people in cinemas worldwide.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


10 Sep 2014

Three eyes on the sky track laws of Nature 10 billion years ago

Astronomers have focused the three most powerful optical telescopes in the world on a single point in the sky to test one of Nature's fundamental laws.

An international team, led by researchers from Swinburne University of Technology, observed a quasar - the extremely bright surroundings of a supermassive black hole - using the Very Large Telescope in Chile and the W M Keck Observatory and Subaru Telescope, both in Hawaii.

The quasar light passed through three different galaxies, some 10, 9 and 8 billion years ago, on its way to Earth. These galaxies absorbed a characteristic pattern of colours out of the quasar light, revealing the strength of electromagnetism - one of Nature's four fundamental forces - in the early and distant Universe.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


15 Jul 2014

Silhouettes of early galaxies reveal few seeds for new stars

An international team of astronomers has discovered that gas around young galaxies is almost barren, devoid of the seeds from which new stars are thought to form molecules of hydrogen.

Without starlight to see them directly, the team - including Associate Professor Michael Murphy from Swinburne University of Technology - observed the young galaxies' outskirts in silhouette.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


30 May 2014

SAO takes out third prize in national online education awards

Swinburne University of Technology’s postgraduate online astronomy program has won third prize in the 2014 NOVA awards for online learning excellence for its unit 'Galaxies and their Place in the Universe'.

The biennial awards, sponsored by Open Universities Australia (OUA), were announced last week at the OUA conference 2014 Education Frontiers Summit in Melbourne.

The winning unit is one of three introductory interactive astronomy units offered by Swinburne Astronomy Online (SAO) that allow students to explore 3D geometries and complex astronomical datasets.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


26 May 2014

Steering Hawaii's Keck telescopes from CAS

From a remote control room in the middle of Swinburne University of Technology’s Hawthorn campus, astronomers have successfully steered the world’s largest optical telescopes more than 9000 kilometres away at the W M Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


22 May 2014

Monster black holes supersize their galactic greed

Astrophysicist Alister Graham and his team at Swinburne University have revealed that these so-called supermassive black holes consume a greater portion of their galaxy’s mass the bigger the galaxy gets. The discovery overturns the longstanding belief that these supermassive black holes are always a constant 0.2 per cent of the mass of all the other stars in their galaxy.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


19 May 2014

Evidence that the Universe broke its rising 'fever' about 11 billion years ago.

An international team, led by researchers from CAS, has found evidence that the Universe broke its rising 'fever' about 11 billion years ago.

They measured the temperature of the Universe when it was 3 to 4 billion years old by studying the gas in between galaxies – the intergalactic medium. During these early years of the Universe's development, many extremely active galaxies were 'switching on' for the first time and heating their surroundings.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


19 May 2014

Black hole makes 'String of Pearls' clusters

An international team, led by researchers from CAS, has found evidence that the Universe broke its rising 'fever' about 11 billion years ago.

They measured the temperature of the Universe when it was 3 to 4 billion years old by studying the gas in between galaxies – the intergalactic medium. During these early years of the Universe's development, many extremely active galaxies were 'switching on' for the first time and heating their surroundings.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


28 Mar 2014

Creating virtual universes with Swinburne's Theoretical Astrophysical Observatory

Swinburne University of Technology has launched a free online astronomy virtual laboratory that will allow scientists to build complex customised views of the Universe, all from the comfort of their own computer.

The Theoretical Astrophysical Observatory (TAO), funded by the Australian Government's $48 million NeCTAR project, draws on the power of Swinburne’s gSTAR GPU supercomputer to allow astronomers to simulate the Universe and see how it would look through a wide range of telescopes

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


24 Mar 2014

Alan Duffy joins Swinburne as Research Fellow and Science Communicator

Astronomer Dr Alan Duffy has been appointed Research Fellow and Science Communicator at Swinburne University of Technology.

Dr Duffy will be part of Swinburne's Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing (CAS) participating in research undertaken at the centre while also generating overall awareness of astrophysics and other science-related topics through community outreach.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


24 Mar 2014

Exploding stars prove Newton's law of gravity unchanged over cosmic time

Australian astronomers have combined all observations of supernovae ever made to determine that the strength of gravity has remained unchanged over the last nine billion years.

Newton's gravitational constant, known as G, describes the attractive force between two objects, together with the separation between them and their masses. It has been previously suggested that G could have been slowly changing over the 13.8 billion years since the Big Bang.

If G has been decreasing over time, for example, this would mean that the Earth's distance to the Sun was slightly larger in the past, meaning that we would experience longer seasons now compared to much earlier points in the Earth’s history

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


18 Mar 2014

Data from the Herschel Space Observatory has provided the largest survey of cosmic dust across a wide range of galaxy types

An international team of astronomers has completed a benchmark study of more than 300 galaxies, producing the largest census of dust in the local Universe, the Herschel Reference Survey.

Led by Dr Luca Cortese from CAS, the team used the Herschel Space Observatory to observe galaxies at far-infrared and sub-millimetre wavelength, and captured the light directly emitted by dust grains.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


18 Mar 2014

Galaxies in the early Universe mature beyond their years

An international team of researchers, including astronomers from Swinburne University of Technology, has discovered the most distant examples of galaxies in the early Universe that were already mature and massive.

The mature galaxies were found at a record-breaking distance of 12 billion light years, seen when the Universe was just 1.6 billion years old. Their existence at such an early time raises new questions about what forced them to grow up so quickly.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


16 Dec 2013

Swinburne Astronomy Productions wins 2013 Vice-Chancellor's Engagement Awards

Congratulations to Russell Scott and Sam Moorfield, from Swinburne Astronomy Productions, for being awarded the 2013 Swinburne Astronomy Productions wins Vice-Chancellor's Engagement Award for "an outstanding initiative which has brought the farthest reaches of the universe to millions of people around the world and Australia's first 3D Imax movie".

Prof Duncan Forbes also received a Highly Commended Mention for outstanding contributions to research in the field of astrophysics.

The official list of Vice-Chancellor's Awards Winners for 2013 can be found here.


12 Dec 2013

CAS in the 2013 VC Awards

Congratulations to Russell Scott and Sam Moorfield for an outstanding initiative which has brought the farthest reaches of the universe to millions of people around the world and Australia’s first 3D Imax movie. They were award a Vice Chancellor's Engagement Award for their efforts.

Prof Duncan Forbes also received a Highly Commended Mention for outstanding contributions to research in the field of astrophysics.

The official list of Vice-Chancellor's Awards Winners for 2013 can be found here.


9 Dec 2013

New CAS Director

Congratulations to Prof Karl Glazebrook who has been appointed the new Director of CAS. Karl will commence his new role 1 Jan 2014


9 Dec 2013

Early Universe less dusty than first thought

Dust may be more rare than expected in galaxies of the early Universe, according to an international research team led by Swinburne astrophysicist Dr David Fisher.

By studying the dust content on nearby galaxy IZwicky 18, the team are learning about galaxies in the early universe. IZwicky 18 shares many properties with distant high redshift galaxies, including a very high star formation rate, low metal content and lots of hydrogen gas. It also has the lowest dust mass of any galaxy ever measured, 100 times lower than can be explained by commonly accepted theories.

Dr Fisher and his team believe that effects from the extreme star formation rate in IZwicky 18 has an adverse effect on the dust. The ramifications for high redshift galaxies means that they will be much more difficult to detect that previously thought.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


25 Nov 2013

Galaxies in groups are running out of fuel

CAS Staff and their international collaborators have found evidence that galaxies that are located in groups might be running out of gas.

Galaxies like our own Milky Way possess large reservoirs of hydrogen gas, which is the fuel out of which new stars are formed. Accurate measurements of the gas content, in addition to the stellar properties, are critical in predicting how a galaxy will evolve.

Taking advantage of the sensitivity of the Arecibo telescope, the largest radio telescope in the world, the research team measured the hydrogen content of a large number of galaxies located in different environments, from isolated systems to large groups. These new observations showed that galaxies in groups have, on average, less gas and star formation than similar systems found in isolation.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


11 Nov 2013

CAS ARC Successes

Congratulations to CAS staff on their recent ARC success, including:

  • Jeff Cooke, Future Fellowship
  • Jeremy Mould and Dr Laura Ferrarese, Discovery Project
  • Matthew Bailes, Dr Yuri Levin, Willem van Straten, Dr George Hobbs & Prof Richard Manchester, Discovery Project
  • Karl Glazebrook, Chris Blake and Jeremy Mould for their association with successful Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities proposals

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


18 Oct 2013

New light on supermassive black holes

Swinburne University of Technology scientists are part of an international team that has used observations of super-dense stars, known as pulsars, to probe the Universe in a completely new way.

Astronomers have known that at the heart of every galaxy, like our own Milky Way, there lurks a supermassive black hole. But until now, the rate at which these black holes grow and collide has been poorly understood.

A paper in today's issue of Science pits the front-running ideas about the growth of supermassive black holes against some of the most precise astrophysical measurements ever made.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


1 Oct 2013

Ultra-compact dwarf galaxy discovered

The most crowded galaxy in the known Universe has been discovered by an international team of astronomers, including researchers from CAS

The ultra-compact dwarf galaxy, known as M60-UCD1, may be the densest galaxy close to Earth, packed with an extraordinary number of stars.

Using imaging from the Hubble Space Telescope to first identify the object, a spectrum of the galaxy was obtained with the Keck II telescope in Hawaii, using the DEIMOS spectrograph. This spectrum was used to confirm its distance and to measure the internal motions of its stars.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


1 Aug 2013

New class of old star cluster discovered

Star clusters with properties not seen before have been discovered by an international team of astrophysicists, led by Swinburne University of Technology's Professor Duncan Forbes.

Using data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the W M Keck Observatory's 10 metre telescope in Hawaii, the researchers found several star clusters with sizes and masses that were previously not known to exist.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


5 Jul 2013

Intergalactic messenger found

Swinburne astrophysicists are part of an international team that has discovered a new class of astronomical phenomena, the origins of which could bring new insights into the mass and evolution of the Universe.

These phenomena, known as Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), are bursts of radio waves that originated billions of light years away, which are likely to have been caused by some catastrophic event in the distant Universe.

The research has been publish in Science. Discover more about this ground breaking research:



5 Jul 2013

Astronomers watch galactic feeding frenzy

Swinburne astronomers are part of an international team that has used one of the world's largest telescopes to spot a distant galaxy hungrily snacking on nearby gas.

A flow of gas appears to be spiralling into the galaxy, providing the fuel to create new generations of stars and to drive the galaxy's rotation.

The research team, led by Dr Nicolas Bouché from the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology in France, includes Associate Professor Michael Murphy and Dr Glenn Kacprzak, from CAS and has been published in Science.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


2 Jul 2013

Swinburne's

Pairing high-resolution real footage of the Universe with highly accurate models of deep space, the new IMAX movie Hidden Universe gives moviegoers a deeper view into space than ever before.

The film, which premieres on 28 June in the US and Denmark, is a unique partnership between Swinburne University of Technology's Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing and December Media.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


3 Jun 2013

CAS graduates win 2013 ASA prizes

The ASA has announced the recipients of the 2013 ASA Awards. Among the winners are 2 recent CAS PhD graduates:

  • Charlene Heisler Prize for the most outstanding PhD thesis in astronomy Awarded to Emily Wisniosky for her thesis "The Kinematic Properties of Clumpy Star-Forming Galaxies", completed at Swinburne University and supervised by Karl Glazebrook.
  • Louise Webster Prize for outstanding research by a scientist early in their post-doctoral career Awarded to Andy Green for his paper "High star formation rates as the origin of turbulence in early and modern disk galaxies".

Congratulations to our prize winners and nominees. The entries received for the prizes were, once again, of a very high standard and a credit to their institutions


30 May 2013

CAS to design SKA Pulsar Timing Instrumentation

Swinburne University of Technology has been offered a $638,000 grant from the Federal Government to lead the design of astronomical instrumentation for the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project.

In particular, CAS staff in the Swinburne Pulsar Group will lead the design of the SKA's pulsar signal processor, which will enable a variety of experiments designed to challenge our understanding of gravity and test Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

The funding is part of a $19 million package being made available to Australian organisations to help design the ground-breaking project, announced by Minister for Science and Research, Senator Don Farrell.

The full Swinburne press release can be found here: Swinburne secures funding for SKA project


17 Jan 2013

Black holes growing faster than expected

Astronomers Prof. Alister Graham and Dr. Nic Scott from Swinburne University of Technology have discovered how supermassive black holes grow - and it's not what was expected.

For years, scientists had believed that supermassive black holes, located at the centres of galaxies, increased their mass in step with the growth of their host galaxy. However, new observations have revealed a dramatically different behaviour.

"Black holes have been growing much faster than we thought," Professor Alister Graham from Swinburne's Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing said.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


16 Jan 2013

CAS researcher A/prof Chris Blake wins Pawsey Medal

Swinburne University of Technology's Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Associate Professor Christopher Blake, has been awarded the prestigious 2013 Pawsey Medal by the Australian Academy of Science.

The Pawsey Medal is awarded annually and recognises outstanding research in physics by scientists under the age of 40 years. The award is named after Australian scientist, radiophysicist and radio astronomer, Dr Joseph Pawsey.

Dr Blake received the award for his research into the physical nature of anti-gravity material known as ‘dark energy' and the expansion of the universe.

His contribution to the dark energy field over the last ten years has been to lead Australian-based research that exploits a different probe of dark energy that is independently sensitive to cosmic gravity, expansion and homogeneity.

The full Swinburne press release can be found here: Researcher wins Pawsey Medal.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


20 Dec 2012

Finding Diamonds in Astrophysical Haystacks

In this video Professor Matthew Bailes discusses the capabilities of Swinburne University's 'Green Machine', its newest Supercomputer. Through the power of the Green Machine, Swinburne Astronomers have made exciting discoveries, like the diamond planet.


6 Dec 2012

SAO & Warrick Couch win 2012 VC Awards

The 2012 Vice-Chancellor's Awards were recently announced, and CAS had 2 winners:

Swinburne Astronomy Online: Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Award (Higher-Education)

The Swinburne Astronomy Online Team,Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Faculty of Information and Communication Technologies (Associate Professor Sarah Maddison-team leader, Dr Glen Mackie, Dr Chris Fluke, Professor Matthew Bailes, Dr Virginia Kilborn, Mr Andrew Jameson, Ms Anne Davis, Mr Artem Bourov) in recognition of the Team’s highly successful astronomy online program, which uses multi-pronged practices to influence, motivate and inspire students through the:


  • creation of opportunities for people throughout the world to engage in postgraduate level study in astronomy
  • design, development and utilisation of outstanding delivery strategies and materials for online education in astronomy.
  • provision of ongoing support for a highly-engaged international network of astronomy students and alumni, thus fostering a sense of global community.


Prof. Warrick Couch: Vice-Chancellor's Research Award

in recognition of his numerous research achievements and awards, and in particular for:
  • planning and leading a highly successful collaborative research program in extragalactic astronomy and cosmology
  • winning substantial national competitive research grant income
  • authoring a series of high-impact research publication
  • raising Swinburne’s reputation for research excellence and standing in international university rankings.

The full list of winners is available from the Strategic Planning & Quality Site


1 Nov 2012

Distant super-luminous supernovae found

Two 'super-luminous' supernovae - stellar explosions 10 to 100 times brighter than other supernova types - have been detected in the distant Universe. The discovery, led by Swinburne University of Technology astrophysicist Dr Jeffrey Cooke, and reported online in Nature this week, sets a record for the most distant supernova yet detected.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


19 Sep 2012

SAO wins prestigious Citation Award

The Centre's Swinburne Astronomy Online program has won a 2012 Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning for inspiring a fascination in the universe through sustained excellence in delivering fully online postgraduate degree courses in astronomy

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


29 Aug 2012

Swinburne part of Eureka Prize win

Associate Professor Michael Murphy from the Centre of Astrophysics and Supercomputing and a team of researchers from the School of Physics at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have been awarded the prestigious 2012 University of New South Wales Eureka Prize for Scientific Research.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


20 Aug 2012

Adrian Malec takes 3rd place in Student Photography & Image competition

The Research Student Photography and Image Competition ran from 6 - 20 August this year as part of National Science Week. CAS graduate student, Adrian Malec, won 3rd prize in the competition which had 40 entries of a very high standard. Adrian's photo was "The Summit of Mauna Kea" shown below.

More information and the other winning entries can be found on the Swinburne Research Competition Page


12 May 2012

Karl Glazebrook earns prestigious citation

Professor Karl Glazebrook has been named one of the 12 most influential Australian researchers at the 2012 Thomson Reuters Australia Citation and Innovation Awards.

At an event held today at the National Press Club in Canberra, a total of 19 Australian-affiliated recipients, including seven innovative organisations, received commerative Thomson Reuters awards. The awards recognise Ausralia's continuing influence on international scientific research and innovation and range across the scienes to social sciences and humanities.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


20 Mar 2012

Astronomers discover 'emerald-cut' galaxy

An international team of astronomers has discovered a rare square galaxy with a striking resemblance to an emerald-cut diamond.

The astronomers - from Australia, Germany, Switzerland and Finland - discovered the rectangular shaped galaxy within a group of 250 galaxies some 70 million light years away.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


7 Mar 2012

Distant galaxy cluster found in plain view

A team of astronomers has discovered the most distant example of a galaxy cluster lying in the middle of one of the most well-studied regions in the sky.

Galaxy clusters are the ‘urban centres' of the universe and may contain thousands of galaxies. This cluster is located 10.5 billion light-years away from our own Milky Way galaxy and is made up of a dense concentration of 30 galaxies that is the seed for a much bigger 'city'.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


26 Aug 2011

A planet made of diamond

A once-massive star that's been transformed into a small planet made of diamond: that's what astronomers think they've found in our Milky Way.

The discovery, reported today in Science, was made by an international research team led by Professor Matthew Bailes, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne and the 'Dynamic Universe' theme leader in a new wide-field astronomy initiative, the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO).

The researchers, from Australia, Germany, Italy, the UK and the USA, first detected an unusual star called a pulsar using the CSIRO Parkes radio telescope and followed up their discovery with the Lovell radio telescope in the UK and one of the Keck telescopes in Hawaii.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


27 May 2011

News: Milky Way in mid-life crisis

The Milky Way is suffering from a mid-life crisis with most of its star formation behind it, new research from Swinburne University of Technology has shown.

Galaxies typically fall into one of two categories - energetic blue galaxies that form new stars at an impressive rate, or lethargic red galaxies which are slowly dying.

In a paper accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal, Mr. Simon Mutch, Dr. Darren Croton and Dr. Gregory Poole, have shown that our own Milky Way galaxy is neither of these. Rather it is a rare 'green valley' galaxy that is half way between a youthful blue galaxy and a geriatric one.

This is the first time that astronomers have compared both the colour and the star formation rate of the Milky Way to that of other galaxies in the Universe.

The journal article can be downloded here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1105.2564v1

Coverage of this article in New Scientist can be found here: New scientist: Milky Way faces midlife crisis.


Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


19 May 2011

Dark Energy is Real

A survey of more than 200,000 galaxies led by Australian astronomers has shown that ‘dark energy’ is real and not a mistake in Einstein’s theory of gravity.

The finding is conveyed in two papers led by Dr Chris Blake from Swinburne University’s Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, which will be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Related press coverage:


Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


1 Mar 2011

May 2011 application round for PhD scholarships

We are now accepting Expressions of Interest for CAS's 2011 application round of PhD scholarships. A range of scholarships are available to local and international students.

Note that although the deadline for formal PhD scholarship applications is in late May, Expressions of Interest should be made as early as possible.

After the Expression of Interest is assessed, students in contention for scholarships must discuss potential PhD projects with possible PhD supervisors, and forward certified documents by regular mail, to be received at Swinburne by the 18th May.


21 Feb 2011

Giant galaxies akin to snowflakes in space

Giant galaxies that contain billions of stars are born in much the same way as delicate snowflakes, new research from Swinburne University of Technology has shown.

In a paper accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Professor Duncan Forbes has provided the first direct evidence to support a theory of galaxy formation that he has likened to the birth of a snowflake.

Forbes, with the help of international collaborators, analysed data from three different telescopes in order to help confirm this galaxy formation theory proposed last year by German astronomer Ludwig Oser and his colleagues.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


20 Jan 2011

New Atlas of Galaxies textbook published

The Multiwavelength Atlas of Galaxies (MAG), authoured by Swinburne University of Technology's Dr Glen Mackie, has just been published by Cambridge University Press. MAG contains over 250 colour images of 35 galaxies spanning the whole electromagnetic spectrum. Accompanying text explains why we see the component stars, gas and dust through different radiation processes. It is a valuable reference for students seeking an overview of multiwavelength observations of galaxies, and for researchers needing summaries of individual galaxies.

Excerpts from MAG are available at: http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/~gmackie/MAG.


19 Nov 2010

How a trail of darkness leads to a planet born

Complex supercomputer models of Galactic dust and gas are helping to spot newborn planets.

An international team of astronomers has laid the groundwork for the next astronomy sensation: watching a far distant planet in the act of being born. Their work is refining the study of the disks of dust that enfold newborn planets, creating a clearer view of cosmic birth.

Swinburne University of Technology's Associate Professor Sarah Maddison and colleagues Dr. Laure Fouchet of Berne University, Switzerland, and Dr. Jean-Francois Gonzalez of Lyon University, France, have developed a technique for studying the vast disk of dust and gas surrounding an infant star. Their technique will allow astronomers using the latest and most powerful millimetre wavelength telescopes to watch as young planets take shape and create that star's solar system - albeit about 500 years ago in Earth time.

For the full media release, please click here.


19 Oct 2010

CAS student's discovery of 'dinosaurs in space' published in Nature

Using Australian telescopes, Swinburne University astronomy student Andy Green has found 'living dinosaurs' in space: galaxies in today's Universe that were thought to have existed only in the distant past. The report of his finding - Green's first scientific paper - appears on the cover of the 7 October issue of Nature. "We didn't think these galaxies existed. We've found they do, but they are extremely rare," said Professor Karl Glazebrook, Green's thesis supervisor and team leader. The Swinburne researchers have likened the galaxies to the ‘living dinosaurs' or Wollemi Pines of space - galaxies you just wouldn't expect to find in today's world.

To view the associated animation, please click here.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


26 Aug 2010

Summer scholarship applications for 2010

We are now accepting applications for Swinburne's 2010 round of summer scholarships.


17 Aug 2010

Processing shifts from games to galaxies

Using hardware developed by the computer game industry, Swinburne University astronomers are solving some of science's most challenging computational problems. In a series of papers published this year, members of Swinburne's Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing have shown how graphics processing units (GPUs) - a type of processor that improves graphics in computer games - can be applied to the field of astronomy.

High resolution images are available here.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


1 Aug 2010

October 2010 application round for PhD scholarships

We are now accepting Expressions of Interest for Swinburne's October 2010 application round of PhD scholarships. A range of scholarships are available to local and international students.

Note that although the deadline for formal PhD scholarship applications is in late October, Expressions of Interest should be made as early as possible. After the Expression of Interest is assessed, students in contention for scholarships must discuss potential PhD projects with possible PhD supervisors, and forward certified documents by regular mail, to be received at Swinburne by the 21st October.


25 Jul 2010

Astronomy ARC Centre of Excellence Bid Successful

The ARC has recently announce the Centre of Excellence outcomes for funding starting in 2011. The Centres of Excellence form the largest and most prestigious grant scheme funded by the ARC. The ARC Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) was approved for funding from 2011, with a budget of $20.6M. CASSTRO is a broad collaboration of Australian and international institutions including Swinburne University, and Prof. Bryan Gaensler from Sydney University is Director. See this report for a summary of proposal outcomes.

CAASTRO official website: www.caastro.org.au


9 Jul 2010

Cosmological anomaly confounds astronomers

PhD student Adrian Malec and Dr. Michael Murphy from Swinburne's Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing have studied a distant galaxy revealed in silhouette against a bright background quasar to help reveal a new cosmological anomaly involving molecules containing hydrogen's doubly-heavy cousin, deuterium (D). This isotope is only produced in the bang bang and is subsequently destroyed by fusion processes in stars; knowing how much deuterium is in the Universe provides crucial information about the big bang and cosmology. But the HD molecule - deuterated molecular hydrogen - should have a far more complex life cycle than D alone and should have very different abundances in different galaxies and even in different places within one galaxy. And yet this new study using quasar observations from the 10-m Keck telescope in Hawaii finds a strange coincidence between the abundance of D and that of HD. Could these new HD observations be used to study cosmology too? The odds are stacked against it, but intriguingly, tantalizingly, the data suggest it may be the case.

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


1 Jul 2010

Supercomputer will aid next gen astronomy

A multi-million dollar upgrade to Swinburne University's supercopmputer will make it a leading research facility for the Australian astronomy community. The upgrade, which will receive $1 million from the Federal Government's Education Investment Fund (EIF) and $2 million from Swinburne, will dramatically increase the speed and capacity of the facility - now known as 'gSTAR'.

Read more in the .


31 May 2010

Bursting

Like bubbles bursting on the surface of a glass of champagne, 'bubbles' in our Galaxy burst and leave flecks of material in the form of clouds of hydrogen gas, PhD student Alyson Ford, from the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University, has found. Her team, consisting of Ford, and collaborators Felix J. Lockman of NRAO, and Naomi Mclure-Griffiths of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, presented thier findings to the American Astronomical Society's meeting in Miami, Florida.

Read more in the NRAO press release and the CSIRO press release.


17 May 2010

Stunning new simulations of galaxy formation show the evolution of hot gas surrounding Disk Galaxies

Swinburne researcher Rob Crain has used stunning new hydrodynamical simulations of galaxy formation to follow the detailed evolution of hot gas surrounding disk galaxies - showing agreement with X-ray observations for the first time.

Hot, X-ray luminous coronae surrounding present-day disk galaxies - such as our own Milky Way - are predicted by galaxy formation theories based on hierachical cosmogonies, such as the currently preferred Lambda-Cold Dark Matter paradigm.

Simple models suggest that this extra-planar emission from massive, local disk galaxies should be seen at surface brightnesses readily accessible by existing X-ray observatories. These models have not garnered observational support, with non-detections commonplace and the few confirmed detections indicating X-ray luminosities 10-100x fainter than expected. This discord has been posited as a challenge to the prebailing view of galaxy formation.

Crain and collaborators used the GIMIC hydrodynamical simulations to highlight shortcomings in the simple models underpinning the predictions, and thus demonstrate that the observations are in fact consistent with the contemporary galaxy formation models.


22 Apr 2010

CAS researcher identifies foreign globular clusters in the Milky Way

Alien invaders pack the Milky Way
Around a quarter of the star clusters in our Milky Way are invaders from other galaxies, new research from Swinburne Univeristy of Technology shows.

In a paper accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Swinburne astronomy Professor Duncan Forbes has shown that many of our galaxy's star clusters are actually foreigners - having been born elsewhere and then migrating to our Milky Way.

"It turns out that many of the stars and star clusters we see when we look into the night sky are not natives, but aliens from other galaxies," said Forbes. "They have made their way into our galaxy over the last few billion years."

Previously astronomers had suspected that some star clusters, which contain around a million stars each, were foreign to our galaxy, but it was difficult to positively identify which ones.

Using Hubble Space Telescope data, Forbes, along with his Canadian colleague Professor Terry Bridges, examined old star clusters within the Milky Way galaxy.

They then compiled the largest ever high-quality database to record the age and chemical properties of each of these clusters.

"Using this database we were able to identify key signatures in many of the star clusters that gave us tell-tale clues as to their external origin," Forbes said.

"We determined that these foreign-born star clusters actually make up about one quarter of our Milky Way star cluster system. That implies tens of millions of accreted stars from star clusters alone.

The researchers' work also suggests that the Milky Way may have swallowed-up more dwarf galaxies than was prebiously thought.

"We found that many of the foreign clusters originally existed within dwarf galaxies - that is 'mini' galaxies of up to 100 million stars that sit within our larger Milky Way.

"Our work shows that there are more of these accreted dwarf galaxies in our Milky Way than was thought. Astronomers had been able to confirm the existence of two accreted dwarf galaxies in our Milky Way - but our research suggests that there might be as many as six yet to be discovered.

"Although the dwarf galaxies are broken-up and thier stars assimilated into the Milky Way, the star clusters of the dwarf galaxy remain intact and survive the accretion process."

"This will have to be explored further, but it is a very exciting prospect that will help us to better understand the history of our own galaxy."

Forbes' research was carried out in Canada as part of an Australian Research Council International Fellowship.

The research paper can be accessed at http://arxiv.org/pdf/1001.4289v1.


16 Apr 2010

CAS awarded 2 ARC Super Science Fellows

Swinburne has been awarded two Super Science Fellowships by the federal government. Twenty Australian institutes received fellowships that aim to attract and retain the best and brightest early-career researchers from Australia and around the world. Swinburne’s two fellowships are associated with a $556,800 project conducted by the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing that will study the process of galaxy assembly across cosmic time. Professor Karl Glazebrook, and Drs Michael Murphy, Emma Ryan-Weber, Chris Blake and Virginia Kilborn comprised the team who proposed the successful project titled "Mass Assembly of Galaxies in the Cosmos: The roles of stars, gas and metals".

Read more in the Swinburne Press Release


1 Mar 2010

May 2010 application round for PhD scholarships

We are now accepting Expressions of Interest for Swinburne's May 2010 application round of PhD scholarships. A range of scholarships are available to local and international students.

Note that although the deadline for formal PhD scholarship applications is in late May, Expressions of Interest should be made as early as possible. After the Expression of Interest is assessed, students in contention for scholarships must discuss potential PhD projects with possible PhD supervisors, and forward certified documents by regular mail, to be received at Swinburne by the 19th May.


21 Sep 2009

Double nucleus galaxies bring sci-fi to life

It may sound like science fiction, but freakish galactic events such as ravenous black holes and ripples in the space-time continuum, could be happening all around us according to new research from Swinburne University of Technology.

In a study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Swinburne researchers examined 50 regular galaxies to determine their composition and structure.

The researchers, Associate Professor Alister Graham and Dr Lee Spitler, found that 12 of these galaxies contained a double nucleus - that is they had both a super massive black hole and a dense star cluster containing up to ten million stars at their centre.


21 Sep 2009

Swinburne Astronomer predicts the evolution of the Milky Way

Swinburne astronomer Rob Crain has produced a simulation of the evolution of the Universe, determining the fate of dwarf satellites, and predicting the existence of thousands of dark matter clumps surrounding the Milky Way.

The simulations also form part of a new ICC movie called Our Cosmic Origins, which combines ground-breaking simulations with observations of galaxies to track the evolution of the Milky Way over the 13-billion-year history of the Universe. It was highlighted at the "Royal Society Summer ScienceExhibition" in July 2009.

The accompanying story is available .


5 Aug 2009

October application round for PhD scholarships

We are now accepting Expressions of Interest for Swinburne's October application round of PhD scholarships. A range of scholarships are available to local and international students.

Note that although the deadline for formal PhD scholarship applications is in late October, Expressions of Interest should be made as early as possible. After the Expression of Interest is assessed, students in contention for scholarships must discuss potential PhD projects with possible PhD supervisors, and forward certified documents by regular mail, to be received at Swinburne by the 23rd October.


5 Aug 2009

Summer Vacation Scholarship application round

We are now accepting application for Summer Vacation Scholarships to be undertaken at CAS between December 2009 and February 2010. Applications must be submitted by the 30th September 2009.


21 Jun 2009

Dr Emma Ryan-Weber is one of 2009's Fresh Scientists

Dr Emma Ryan-Weber is one of this year's Fresh Scientists. Fresh Science is a national competition that identifies new and interesting research being done by early-career scientists around the country and releases their stories to the media. Emma and her colleagues have discovered the oldest and most distant carbon in the Universe, but there's not enough of it to support standard theories of how the Universe lit up.

Full story on the Fresh Science website.


27 Mar 2009

Swinburne astronomer elected to Australian Academy of Science

Professor Warrick Couch has been recognised for his contribution to the field of astrophysics, by election to the Australian Academy of Science. Couch, a distinguished professor at the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, has been acknowledged for his work on galaxy evolution and cosmology, and his involvement in the discovery of the accelerating universe. Election to the Academy represents one if the highest honours that a scientist can be awarded in Australia. Each year the Academy elects 16 new fellows from a diverse range of sciences. Couch's election further cements his place as one of the country's most eminent scientists.


23 Mar 2009

Astronomers discover galactic 'missing link'

The discovery of a galactic freak - an extremely rare ultra-compact dwarf galaxy, the closest yet found to the Earth - could furnish the missing link in understanding how galaxies and their clusters evolve.

Swinburne University of Technology astronomer Dr. George Hau, along with Professor Duncan Forbes and his research group, made the discovery using the giant Keck telescope - the most powerful optical instrument in the world.

Full story: Swinburne Magazine, Issue #5


15 Mar 2009

Study: May application round for PhD scholarships

We are now accepting Expressions of Interest for Swinburne's May application round of PhD scholarships. A range of scholarships are available to local and international students.

Note that although the deadline for formal PhD scholarship applications is in late May, Expressions of Interest should be made as early as possible. After the Expression of Interest is assessed, students in contention for scholarships must discuss potential PhD projects with possible PhD supervisors, and forward certified documents by regular mail, to be received at Swinburne by the 22nd May.


16 Feb 2009

Swinburne Telescopes: Past, Present & Future

Little is known about Robert Wigmore, the maker of a large reflector telescope once owned by Swinburne University. Built in 1894, and used for astronomy classes at Swinburne in the 1950s, the telescope disappeared in 1960. For over 40 years, its whereabouts remained a mystery. To celebrate the International Year of Astromy, the recently re-discovered Wigmore Telescope is returning to Swinburne University for one evening. For more information, including bookings for this event, see here


23 Jan 2009

Swinburne Science Production in Rotterdam

Bigger than Big, a three-dimensional astronomical journey produced by Swinburne University was a proud invited participant in the 38th Rotterdam International Film Festival this week. The film was chosen as part of the "Signals: Size Matters" Program along with films from around the globe.

Bigger than Big was produced at the Swinburne's Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing and combines cutting edge scientific astronomical data and simulations with stunning animations.

From an astronaut's footprint to the galaxy clusters that form the most gigantic structures known, Bigger than Big is a captivating astronomy experience designed for science museums, observatories and planetariums. Data visualisations from galaxy surveys were used alongside realistic animations to create a beautiful and educational universe.

The Rotterdam Film Festival is an active supporter of independent film making from around the globe and offers a program of innovative, experimental cinema and film-related art.

"Being chosen for a festival like Rotterdam is a wonderful recognition of the work we do," says the film's Director, Russell Scott. "It shows the ability of innovative storytelling and animation to bring science into the world of art and vice versa. Supporting crossover scientific films like Bigger than Big is a really unique aspect of Swinburne's business."

Bigger than Big is currently showing in 3d-stereo at Swinburne Astrotour theatres in Sydney, Parkes, Hobart, and the United Kingdom, among others.


12 Jan 2009

2009 International Year of Astronomy lecture series

UNESCO has declared 2009 to be the "International Year of Astronomy" (IYA09). Here at the Centre for Astrophysics, we will be running a number of special events throughout the year, along with some old favourites. All events will be listed here: http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/outreach/

We are kicking things off with our summer public AstroTours. These 3D tours of the universe are guided by one of the Centre's astronomers and will also show a selection of our 3D films. More information is available on our AstroTour homepage: http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/astrotour, The summer dates are 21 January at 3 pm, and 22 January at 7 pm, and the price is $10 per person. Bookings are essential and can be made by calling 9214 5569, or emailing contact@astro.swin.edu.au

The 2009 Public Lecture series will celebrate IYA09 with a focus on the research of the Centre's astronomers, and our distinguished visitors. The full lecture program can be found here: Free lecture series

The first Public Lecture will be on 19 February at 6:30 pm. Professor Matthew Bailes, the Centre's Director, will talk about his favourite pastime, Millisecond Pulsar Hunting. Bookings can be made as per above.


1 Dec 2008

CAS reaffirmed as a Tier 1 Centre until 2015

The Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing has had its Tier 1 status reaffirmed and will receive Tier 1 funding until the end of 2015.


The opening of our new High-Definition Virtual-Reality Theatre

Our new High-Definition Virtual-Reality Theatre was opened by Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Swinburne's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Young on Monday 8th December with a short introduction from Centre Director Professor Matthew Bailes and a presentation from Dame Joceyln Bell Burnell.


Vacation scholarships: Applications for summer accepted

We are now accepting applications for Vacation Scholarships at the Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing from enthusiastic university students with excellent scholastic records who are in the last, or second last, year of their undergraduate degree.

For scholarships during the period December 2008 to February 2009, we ask for applications to be submitted by the 31st October 2008.


The Little Things are Coming! In High Definition!

Comets. Asteroids. Kuiper Belt Objects. The popular 3D stereo production by the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing has been re-designed and animated in full High Definition Stereo, especially for Swinburne Astrotour Theatres around the world. This is the story of the amazing little things in the Solar System, and the incredible space explorers that have visited them.

“Many of the stories about our Solar System concentrate on the Sun and the Planets, but the asteroids, comets and Kuiper belt objects have their own fascinating science to share,” Dr Chris Fluke, astronomer and original screenplay author, says. “By re-releasing this production in high definition, we can give people a more immersive experience and a better understanding of our Solar System.” The Little Things HD takes us from shooting stars on earth to the outer reaches of the Oort cloud, where comets are thought to form. We land on the surface of a comet and fly through the asteroid belt.

“The beauty of 3D stereoscopic animation is the educational impact it provides,” explains Dr Elizabeth Stark, Marketing and Business Manager for the Centre. “We are no longer limited to telling the audience facts about comets, for instance, we can now pick them up and put them on the surface of one. That kind of realistic experience is an extremely powerful education tool that just wasn't available ten or twenty years ago.” The Little Things HD will be released worldwide on the 29th of September, 2008, and will be screening as part of Swinburne University of Technology's Spring Holiday Astrotours.

For a full list of Astrotour theatres see http://www.vr.swin.edu.au/astrotour/installations.html. For sales and licencing information, please contact our distribution team at vr@swin.edu.au


Measuring the Universe with a fine tooth comb

Using a Nobel Prize winning laser technique, an international team of researchers, including Swinburne's Dr Michael Murphy, has vastly improved the precision of astronomy - it will even allow them to measure a star moving as slowly as a tortoise. In an article published in Science, they demonstrated how a 'laser frequency comb' could be used to calibrate an astronomical telescope. In future, this will enable astronomers to measure the spectral features of distant stars and galaxies with extreme precision.

Images explaining the research


Bigger than Big movie is finalist in 2008 Scinema Awards - 11th August 2008

Bigger than Big, a three dimensional astronomical journey produced by Swinburne University has been accepted as a finalist in the 2008 SCINEMA traveling festival of science.

The short animation will be touring Australia during National Science Week (August 16 - 24) as part of the "To the Moon and Back" SCINEMA program. SCINEMA is a science film, multimedia and video festival that works to combine the best of the arts and sciences to increase science literacy nationally.

From an astronaut's footprint to the galaxy clusters that form the most gigantic structures known, Bigger than Big is a captivating astronomy experience designed for science museums, observatories and planetariums. Data visualisations from galaxy surveys were used alongside realistic animations to create a beautiful and educational universe.


Amateur astronomer stars for NASA

One of Swinburne Astronomy Online's former students, Trevor Barry, has made the headlines by capturing an electrical storm raging over the planet Saturn from his home telescope in Broken Hill. These images are of great value to the Cassini NASA team monitoring Saturn and Trevor is now one of only four amateur astronomers supplying regular images. Congratulations Trevor!

Images explaining the research
ABC News Item


Einstein's theory still stands up to the stars

Swinburne astronomers research tests Einstein's general theory of relativity when applied to a very unique pair of stars that are unequal in mass and size. The researchers found that Einsteins theory still stands up, almost 100 years after it was originally proposed.


Watching the Universe expand in real time

An international team of astronomers including Swinburne's Michael Murphy has proposed an ambitious plan that would see them monitor the expansion of the Universe in real time over the next five decades. The proposal, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, involves measuring the distances of thousands of very distant ‘clouds’ of gas that are distributed throughout the Universe. Then, between 20 and 50 years later the astronomers will measure the distances again to determine how much they have changed.


Strange stellar pair puzzles astronomers

Dr. Ramesh Bhat at Swinburne's Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing is part of an international team of astronomers who have discovered an odd binary pulsar system using the world's largest radio telescope located in Puerto Rico, the Arecibo radio telescope. This pulsar is located 20,000 light-years away and spins at a rate of 465 revolutions per second. It is nearly twice as massive as our own Sun and is in a strangely elongated orbit around a Sun-like star, a discovery that challenges conventional theories of binary star formation. The team recently published their findings in the online journal, Science Express.


The Universe is twice as bright as was previously thought

Dr Alister Graham at Swinburne's Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing and an international team of astronomers have determined that the Universe is twice as bright as was previously thought. They have found that dust is obscuring approximately half the starlight that the Universe currently generates from our observations.


Swinburne University joins the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

Swinburne has accepted an invitation to become the only Australian International Affiliate member of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA). AURA is a consortium of universities, and educational and other non-profit institutions that operates world-class astronomical observatories. Of these institutions, 33 are in the US and 7 are outside of the US.


Swinburne Astronomer wins Astronomical Society of the Pacific Prize

Professor Karl Glazebrook of the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing has today been awarded the 2008 Maria & Eric Muhlmann Award, for the development of innovative research instruments and techniques. The prize was awarded by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for Professor Glazebrook's role in the development of the "Nod and Shuffle" technique, along with Joss Bland-Hawthorn, University of Sydney; and Jean-Charles Cuillandre, Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Corporation.

The "Nod and Shuffle" observational technique allows astronomers to obtain very faint spectra of celestial objects by naturally subtracting the glow of the nighttime sky. The technique has been used successfully in the study of faint galaxies with the Anglo-Australian Telescope, in the Gemini Deep Deep Survey of galaxies in the early universe, and in other applications.


Bringing new life to online journals

The way in which researchers can present their data in online publications has been revolutionised thanks to two Swinburne astrophysicists. Dr David Barnes and Dr Christopher Fluke from Swinburne's Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing have developed a new technique that allows interactive three dimensional visualisations to be embedded into Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files. Two papers have been accepted for publication that not only discuss this new technique, but also utilise it.


Royal Astronomical Society prize for Swinburne Astronomers

An Australian and UK astronomy team, including Professor Warrick Couch and Professor Karl Glazebrook of Swinburne, has been awarded the first


Swinburne announces major new collaborative opportunity with Caltech: Swinburne Astronomers to access Keck telescopes

Swinburne's Vice-Chancellor and the Centre for Astronomy and Supercomputing's Director have signed an MOU with Caltech which will see extensive collaboration in radio and optical astronomy over the next 5 yrs. This will include access to the world's largest and most powerful optical telescope: the twin 10m telescopes of the W. M. Keck Observatory for up to 20 nights a year. The observatory is situated at 4205m above sea level (above 60% of the Earth's atmosphere) on the summit of Hawaii's dormant Mauna Kea volcano. Access to this class of telescope will enable Swinburne astronomers to see objects further away and with more detail than has previously been possible for Australian observers. Swinburne astronomers will be the first group in Australia to have guaranteed access to the Keck telescopes.

CAS Keck page with photos


Swinburne Astronomers win large Australia-India collaborative grant

The Swinburne astronomy team, led by Prof. Matthew Bailes and Dr. Ramesh Bhat, was successfully awarded a major research grant by DIISR to pursue an innovative scientific programme with the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), the largest and most powerful low frequency radio telescope in the world. A joint collaborative effort between Swinburne, Curtin, Australia Telescope National Facility and the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (India), this programme will capitalise on the key infrastructure in India (the GMRT) and Australia (the Swinburne supercomputer) to develop and demonstrate important techniques (e.g. multi-beaming over wide field of view) relevant for the Square Kilometre Array project and use such newly developed capabilities of GMRT for novel science goals in the areas of pulsars and transients. Establishing an intercontinental interferometric link between Australia and India for Very Long Baseline Interferometry experiments is also among the main goals of the project.


Royal Astronomical Society prize for Swinburne Astronomers

An Australian and UK astronomy team, including Professor Warrick Couch and Professor Karl Glazebrook of Swinburne, has been awarded the first Group Achievement Award from the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society. The award was made in recognition of their part in the 2-degree Field Galaxy Redshift Survey (2dFGRS); measuring patterns in the distribution of galaxies on scales from 100 million to 1 billion light-years. Led by Professor Matthew Colless (Anglo-Australian Observatory) in Australia and Professor John Peacock (University of Edinburgh) in the UK, the thirty-three-member team spent ten years mapping the distribution in space of 220,000 galaxies using the 3.9-m Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) in New South Wales.


Appointments: Dr Emma Ryan-Weber and Dr Darren Croton

We are pleased to announce that Dr Emma Ryan-Weber and Dr Darren Croton will join our academic staff in the near future. Dr Ryan-Weber is currently at the University of Cambridge and her areas of expertise include HI and high redshift extragalactic astronomy. Dr Darren Croton is currently at the University of California, Berkeley and is involved in the modelling of extragalactic surveys using cosmological N-body simulations and semi-analytical modelling.


Adam Deller awarded prestigious Jansky Fellowship

Swinburne PhD student Adam Deller has been awarded the prestigious Jansky Fellowship from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) of the USA. Adam will be taking the first 1.5 years of this fellowship at NRAO itself, working on the software correlator required for the Long Baseline Array sensitivity upgrade; followed by 1.5 years at the University of California, Berkeley working with Professor Don Backer on the Portable Array to Probe the Epoch of Reionization (PAPER).


Dancing with the Stars: connecting astronomy and art

Dance and science come together when Swinburne's astronomy centre gains an artist in residence. Choreographer, Frances d'Ath, has been absorbed in the creative process for two months and is about to reveal monadologie the work choreographed during hher residency at Swinburne's Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing. D'ath's Artist in Residence has been funded by the Australian Network for Art Technology/Arts Victoria.


Laws of Nature may be flawed after all

A Swinburne astrophysicist has leapt another hurdle in the path to proving that our fundamental theories of physics are not what they seem. Dr Michael Murphy is part of a team that has, over recent years, uncovered surprising and controversial evidence suggesting the laws of physics may have been changing through cosmic time. In this latest move, Murphy has debunked a study which claimed to disprove his findings.


Powerful Radio Burst Indicates New Astronomical Phenomenon

Astronomers at Swinburne University and West Virginia University (WVU) have identified a new mysterious burst of radio energy with the race now on to find more, paving the way for a new field of astronomy to emerge - similar to that achieved when the US military revealed the existence of gamma ray bursts in the 1970's.

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Two prestigious fellowships awarded to Centre staff

Two prestigious five-year research fellowships have been awarded to researchers at Swinburne's Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing. Professor Warrick Couch, already a HiCi researcher, was awarded an Australian Professorial Fellowship (APF), while his colleague Dr Michael Murphy picked up a Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Fellowship.


Fourteen new distant galaxies discovered - Galaxy 'hunting' made easy using the glare of cosmic flashlights

A Swinburne scientist is part of an international team of astronomers who have discovered over a dozen new galaxies halfway across the Universe. The discovery represents a major breakthrough in the field of distant galaxy 'hunting' and paves the way for more detailed studies of them.


Prof. Warrick Couch receives prestigious international cosmology prize

Three Australian astrophysicists including Swinburne's Professor Warrick Couch are part of two international teams of scientists that will receive the prestigious 2007 Gruber Cosmology Prize for their discovery that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating.


Staff recognised as HiCi researchers

Professor Karl Glazebrook has recently been recognised as a HiCi (high citation) researcher, an honour awarded to researchers whose citations rank them in the top 0.5 per cent of researchers in their field globally. He is the second HiCi researcher at the Centre, alongside Professor Warrick Couch


ARC Success for Swinburne Astronomers

Swinburne Astronomers Prof. Warrick Couch, Prof. Duncan Forbes, Prof. Karl Glazebrook and Dr Chris Blake have been successful in obtaining 3 competitive Discovery grants from the Australian Research Council. The awards, worth over $1M, will be used to conduct research in the areas of galaxy evolution and cosmology including measuring the dark energy content of the Universe.


Shedding light on Dark Energy

The largest ever galaxy survey to unveil nature 'fifth force'. Swinburne astrophysicists have been awarded a massive 220-night allocation from the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT), worth over $7 million, to study Dark Energy. The project will involve the largest-ever galaxy survey undertaken by the telescope and will measure some 300,000 distant galaxies


Appointments: Prof Karl Glazebrook

Later this year, Professor Karl Glazebrook will be joining Swinburne. Professor Glazebrook is presently a full professor at Johns Hopkins University in the United States. He has an outstanding track record with over 9000 citations of his work. Of his publications, 34 are ranked "high impact", meaning they are in the top 1% of the most highly cited publication in their year of publication. Clearly, with such an outstanding record, Professor Glazebrook will be a major addition to the University. Professor Glazebrook's outstanding abilities were recognised by the awarding of a 800K "blue sky" research grant from the Packard foundation, and he is leading some ambitious observational programmes at the world's largest telescopes into the nature of the distant Universe. Recognised as one of the world's leading observational cosmologists, Prof Glazebrook is currently helping to design the next generation of billion-dollar optical facilities.


'Lost' Dark Matter Found

Using Gemini observations of globular clusters in NGC 3379 (M105), a team led by PhD student Michael Pierce and Prof. Duncan Forbes of Swinburne University in Australia, have found evidence for normal quantities of dark matter in the galaxy's dark halo. This is contrary to previous observations of planetary nebulae that indicated a paucity of dark matter in the galaxy.


Appointments: Prof Warrick Couch

Professor Warrick Couch, Head of School of Physics at the University of NSW will be joining the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing from the middle of the year. Professor Couch is a high profile scientist, being a Citation Laureate, signifying that he is one of the 30 most highly cited scientists in Australia. Professor Couch in addition to the new Tier 1 appointments will greatly strengthen Swinburne's position as a leading centre for astronomy research.


Astronomy behind the scenes: public lectures

From telescopes to supercomputers and 3D simulations of outer space, a new series of public lectures run by Swinburne’s Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing (CAS) will look at how changing technologies have shaped our understanding of the universe.


New planetarium product transforms portable domes

Full colour animation taking stargazers anywhere in the Universe will be available to the portable planetarium market with the release of MirrorDome, a new digital product developed by the Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing.


Australia and New Zealand ready for next generation telescope

Radio astronomers in Australia and New Zealand have joined forces to link telescopes separated by over 2500km in preparation for the next generation of telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

The combined telescopes, located in the North Island of New Zealand and north-west New South Wales of Australia, have enabled astronomers to probe radio emission from a black hole, 4.5 billion light years distant from Earth. Astronomers were able to measure incredibly weak signals from a quasar (a supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy, expelling material at close to the speed of light, 300,000 km per second) one quarter of the way across the universe (4.5 billion light years away), with a time accuracy of 5 billionth of a second (5 nanoseconds).


Astronomers return to basics to measure the largest x-ray flare ever seen from the Sun

Using a simple radio receiver and antenna costing $155, Australian astronomers have trumped X-ray detectors on vastly expensive satellites orbiting Earth to accurately measure the largest X-ray flare ever seen from the Sun.

Solar flares are explosions in the Sun's atmosphere caused by the sudden release of magnetic energy, with the associated radiation and electrified gas having the potential to damage communications and other satellites in Earth's orbit and to disrupt power systems and radio communications on Earth.


Swinburne team traces an invisible planet

Swinburne University astronomers are turning to computer screens - rather than towards the night sky - in their search for elusive new planets.

PhD student Adam Deller and Senior Lecturer Dr Sarah Maddison from the Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing have been using the university's supercomputer to predict the presence of planets invisible from earth.