Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker

Dr Natasha Hurley-WalkerI am a Curtin Early Career Research Fellow who helped to commission the low-frequency SKA precursor radio telescope, the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), located in outback Western Australia. After a long day testing new receivers, I took this photo of one of its 128 "tiles", a novel design which replaces the more familiar dish design of higher-frequency radio telescopes:

The Murchison Widefield Array

I have been conducting a sky survey using this new radio telescope: the GaLactic and Extragalactic All-sky MWA survey, or "GLEAM" for short. It has a resolution of two arcminutes (about the same as the human eye) and spans the frequency range 72 -- 231 MHz, from radio to digital TV. We have made thousands of observations of the sky, and I have used the supercomputing facilities at the Pawsey Center to calibrate the observations, produce images,
and knit them together across the sky, producing this view:

MWA Oil Slick View

Using the MWA's high surface brightness senstivity, I discovered the lowest surface-brightness radio galaxy ever detected: tenuous jets of plasma around the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 1534:

MWA DSS inset

Closer to home, I used the MWA to image plasmospheric ducts in the Earth's ionosphere, which distort our observations of distant radio galaxies, but by doing so, reveal themselves.

I also make time in my schedule to participate in science outreach, talking to kids about careers in science, popping up where least expected for Guerilla Astronomy, and in 2013 I was honoured to be invited to give a keynote speech at Astrofest, WA's largest public astronomy event. I'll be talking at the Pint of Science festival in May 2016.

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Last updated
Friday, 26 February, 2016 12:51 PM
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