Much of ICRAR's work revolves around science associated with the Square Kilometre Array and its precursors.

In broad terms, ICRAR's key research themes are:

Radio astronomy

This includes science with existing world-class radio telescopes in Australia and elsewhere, and preparatory studies for the SKA and precursor telescopes.

There are a number of key research areas.

Galaxy assembly and evolution

Surveys of neutral hydrogen in the nearby Universe had taught astronomers much about the processes by which ordinary gas accretes onto galaxies owing to collisional processes and direct infall. It has also told astronomers about the physical processes involved in the formation of stars.

The challenge for the future is to conduct such surveys in the more distant Universe where the evolution of the properties of galaxies, and even the evolution of the geometry of the Universe itself, can be studied.

The Variable Universe

Many radio sources appear to have a variable energy output. Pulsars are a well-known example, but a myriad of other classes of galactic and extragalactic objects have variable energy output on timescales which range from fractions of a second to years.

Future-sensitive, widefield radio telescopes will be very sensitive to such variability. ICRAR researchers are conducting science and technical research to better understand the phenomenon of variability.

Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI)

Observation of powerful radio sources with high angular resolution is an important technique for studying their structure and motion, and is an important science goal for the SKA. ICRAR researchers are conducting scientific research using VLBI data, and conducting research aimed at improving the VLBI technique using, for example, better and faster data transport mechanisms.

Data-intensive science

The progression from the relatively small data volumes produced by most current radio telescopes to the huge amount to be generated by next-generation telescopes will be a challenge for astronomers.

ICRAR researchers are conducting studies into systems capable of dealing with the storage and serving of large data volumes, as well as in techniques required to process such volumes.


The SKA relies on low-cost, high-capability hardware. Engineering research at ICRAR is helping to meet this challenge in a number of areas, including the development of Aperture Arrays, which are radio telescopes with no moving parts, designed to be steered electronically.

The development of such widefield, wideband systems operating to frequencies close to 1 Gigahertz is a key technical goal for the SKA.

“The scientific opportunities of the SKA and ASKAP are immense - ICRAR researchers are proud to be working on radio astronomy projects with colleagues from around the world”.


Research Leaders

Peter Quinn
Peter Quinn

Prof Quinn's research focuses on the formation and evolution of galaxies using supercomputer computations and simulations. In particular, he is working on the nature of Dark Matter, the formation and evolution of Dark Matter around galaxies and its influence on the galaxy formation process. His interests include galaxy internal dynamics and galaxy interactions/mergers, dissipationless collapse and phase mixing, disk and bulge formation, the connection between galactic nuclear activity and Hubble type and the detailed baryonic and non-baryonic processes occurring during the Epoch of Reionization.

Prof Quinn's ultimate aim is to develop a useable theory of galaxy formation based on the insights gained from detailed modelling and state-of-the art observations in the opitcal/IR and radio. He is also interested in challenges associated with large-scale data intensive and computationally science, in particular the concept of a Virtual Observatory and research using large digital astronomical archives.

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Last updated
Wednesday, 20 June, 2012 2:05 PM
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