CAASTRO Annual Retreat in the ‘Braidwood Times’

Nov 23, 2011

Astrophysicists retreat in Bungendore

63 members of The ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) met at the Molonglo Observatory at Hoskinstown for the inaugural Annual Retreat last week.

“CAASTRO is a major new initiative that is revolutionising the way we see the universe,” says Professor Bryan Gaensler, Director of CAASTRO.

CAASTRO is taking a new approach to astronomy by using an all-sky perspective to answer the big questions about our universe. In the last few years, Australia has invested more than $400 million in new wide-field telescopes and the high-performance computers needed to process the resulting torrents of data. Using these new tools, Australia now has the chance to be at the vanguard of the upcoming information revolution in all-sky astronomy.

The new centre is a collaboration of six Australian Universities led by the University of Sydney with the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, Curtin University and Swinburne University of Technology with partners from Germany, France, United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada and India.

The CAASTRO team is made up of researchers with some of the strongest scientific track records in international astronomy. Amongst the members coming to Bungendore are the recently awarded Nobel Laureate, Professor Brian Schmidt, six Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science, a Federation Fellow, a Laureate Fellow, two ARC Professorial Fellows, four QEII Fellows and a Future Fellow.

Professor Gaensler says CAASTRO’s strength is that it will be a collaborative structure that for the first time combines the relevant expertise and resources into a single coherent unit.

The Annual Retreat in Bungendore provides an opportunity for CAASTRO’s members to consider some of the big unsolved questions in astronomy:

• The Evolving Universe: When did the first galaxies form, and how have they evolved?

• The Dynamic Universe: What is the high-energy physics that drives rapid change in the Universe?

• The Dark Universe: What are the Dark Energy and Dark Matter that dominate the cosmos?

CAASTRO also has a strong focus on training the next generation of scientists, with the aim of providing a legacy extending beyond the Centre’s lifetime. Joining the world-class team of astrophysicists at the Bungendore retreat will be a number of students from Universities across Australia.

Members travelled to Bungendore from 6 different universities across Australia and key note speakers attended from Germany and USA.