Stars align at Curtin
Do you wonder about our place in the universe? Would you like to find out how stars really work or learn about the wonderfully bizarre features of our local or not so local planets? Do you imagine wrestling with the complexity of the space-time continuum? If you do, there’s no better place to study than Perth, Western Australia.
In 2012, an international committee will decide if the world’s most powerful telescope—the £1.5 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA)—will be built in Western Australia’s Murchison region or at a site in southern Africa. The project is a collaboration between 19 countries, including the United Kingdom, Brazil, Canada, the Netherlands, India and the United States.
Astronomy is a growing field in Australia, with the development of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) and the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), located in the Murchison Radio-Astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. Both technologies are paving the way for the SKA to be built here in Western Australia.
Set to answer ancient questions about the nature of physics and the origin of the universe, the SKA is a project of vast international significance. The SKA will be 50 times more sensitive and survey the sky 10,000 times faster than some of the world’s most powerful telescopes, such as the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, Spitzer Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.
‘Australia has been an incredibly dynamic environment for radio astronomy over the past two years,’ explains Curtin academic Professor Steven Tingay, ‘and it’s all coming together to lay the foundation for the SKA.’
Professor Tingay is the co-director of the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy: one of the two research nodes of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research. The Centre was built 2009 as part of Western Australia’s effort to secure the SKA project and ensure its success.
If you’re interested in learning more, Curtin offers a Bachelor of Science (Astronomy), as well as undergraduate and postgraduate science degrees with physics majors. Curtin’s excellent links with the Perth Observatory let students undertake projects there, and you will also the opportunity to become involved in research relating to the SKA.
The University is also active in research in other areas of astronomy and physics, including areas such as remote sensing, isotope science, materials science and technology, marine science and theoretical physics.