Astrophysics research within the Centre spans the entire electromagnetic spectrum covering computational, theoretical and observational astronomy. Within the Centre, the research into the following areas is a priority:
Centre research is focused on understanding galaxy formation and its subsequent evolution. We study both examples in the nearby Universe and perform simulations of early structure formation. The role of the environment in shaping galaxy evolution is also a key theme. We also use gravitational lensing as a probe of dark matter distributions and cosmological models
Globular clusters are perhaps the oldest stellar systems in the Universe and provide a useful probe of galaxy halos. Research within the Centre concentrates on measuring the age and chemical abundance properties of extragalactic globular clusters. We also use globular clusters as kinematic tracers of the dark matter distribution within galaxy halos.
Heading our efforts are the Intermediate and High Latitude Pulsar Surveys, and the High-Precision Timing of Southern Millisecond Pulsars. We are actively involved in studies of interstellar scintillation, single-pulse polarimetry, and the development of baseband recording systems and a baseband software correlator. Having developed the world's largest bandwidth coherent dedispersion system to study pulsars at sub-microsecond time resolution and gravitaional waves.
Stars and Planets
Interests in this area range from star and planet formation (including formation of molecular clouds, the dynamics and evolution of disksaround young single and binary stars, the early stages of planet growth from mircons to metres, and the effects of planets on the evolution of protostellar disks); stellar dynamics and evolution (N-body simulations of star cluster evolution and destruction, formation of exotic stars and binaries); and binary population synthesis.
Supermassive Black Holes
Supermassive black holes millions to billions of times more massive than our Sun reside at the heart of most galaxies. We are actively studying (i) the connection between the mass of these black holes and the physical properties of their host galaxy, (ii) the damage they can cause to their hosts, and (iii) the signature of binary supermassive black holes on millisecond pulsar timing, and the implications this may have for gravitational radiation and black hole merger events.
Big Bang Cosmology
Using the AAOmega instrument on the AAT, we are measuring redshifts for 400,000 galaxies to determine the clustering of matter at redshift z ~ 0.75. This clustering, or "baryonic wiggle", is a relic of the Big Bang and provides a measurement of the Dark Energy content of the Universe.
The Scientific Computing and Visualisation group is working to maximise the scientific return from astronomy data. Research areas include developing new tools for interactive astrophysical visualisation, the use of advanced computing architectures such as graphics processing units (GPUs), and novel technologies including smart phones and 3D-PDF for exploration and presentation of data.