On the first day we were given a tour of the ICRAR node at Curtin university, where we learnt the locations of all emergency exits, first aid kits and workspaces. After that we were given a brief intro to astronomy by our supervisor, Dr Adelle Goodwin. Then, we were given more in-depth introductions to different fields relating to ICRAR such as Theoretical Astronomy by Mawson Sammons and his work relating to Gamma Ray Bursts and Fast Radio Bursts. Then Professor Cathryn Trott told us about her work relating to the Epoch of Reionisation and Maria Kovaleva’s work in antennas. We were also given a summary of the software and code required to process and obtain data from Derwent Mcelhinney and Kathryn Ross. This gave us a good induction into Astronomy and the many different fields that there are in astronomy. This allows people with many different backgrounds to enter into astronomy, whether it was physics, engineering or software development.
We began our day at ICRAR UWA by having an online meeting with Kevin Vinsen who have us a brief history of ICRAR and the SKA. We were informed about how much data the SKA would produce in one day, its different phases, restrictions and benefits. We then learned about how vast the universe actually is and about the potential for extra-terrestrial life through the findings of liquid water and the precursors of Amino Acids. Finally, we were told about all the benefits of Radio Astronomy has given the world, such as GPS, MRI, broadcasting and WIFI. Then we did an activity with Cosmos Consultant Gregory Rowbotham where we calculated the velocity, size and mass of a distant galaxy, only knowing its diameter in degrees and its recessional velocity. Next, Dr Elisabete de Cunha, a senior researcher who blends simulations and observing in order to research younger galaxies, told us about her work and how to get on a pathway to becoming an astronomer. Afterwards, we met with Dr Luca Cortese, a senior researcher who summarised the history, origins and evolution of the universe. We were then informed on how he progressed his career, and his daily work life, such as submitting telescope proposals, research and manipulating images to give certain parts of its different colours so that conclusions can easily be drawn from the image. Finally, a member of the photonics team at ICRAR UWA gave us a tour of his photonics lab, as well as showing us UWA’s telescope with a 70cm wide mirror.
Our day began at the ARRC building with our supervisor, Ann Backhaus, taking us to a presentation from Eamonn Darcy about Quantum Computers, Teleportation, Entanglement and Superposition. We learnt about quantum particles, which are anything smaller than an atom and seem to adhere to different laws of physics. Some of the most interesting things covered were the Double Slit Experiment and Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser experiment which proved that quantum particles can be in superposition, meaning they are simultaneously a wave and a ray. It also proved that Quantum Entanglement, where the superposition states of two particles are linked, can travel instantly through space and time. The last thing we were told about was Quantum Computing and how it would revolutionize the science that required supercomputers. Then we had a second presentation from several people, including geologists, software engineers and biologists about how they came to the point of life they are currently at. The biologist, Dr Beecroft informed us about some of her PhD work such as protein modelling and genetic diseases. Finally, we had a virtual tour from Mark Gray and Mark Stickells of the Pawsey Centre’s Supercomputer room where we were shown the room that held all of the cooling equipment, the storage for the supercomputing centre, including the tape drives, which may be slow but are very efficient and the cloud and hard drive storage systems. Lastly, we saw the actual supercomputers in Pawsey, including Magnus and Quokka and were allowed to ask both of them about the supercomputers.
The first thing we did at CIRA was an activity with Professor Randall Wayth and Kathryn Ross where we aided them in searching for reasons that a blip travelled across an image taken over 14 minutes from a radio telescope. We eventually managed to narrow it to a satellite that could very well have been the interference. Then Professor David Davidson gave us a tour of the radio frequencies lab and learnt about all of the engineering work needed for astronomy. Then we had a talk from Dr Adela Kawka about her work in Stellar Evolution and White Dwarfs. Next, we were spoken to about a new image that was captured on a large telescope that contained two clusters gravitationally lensing several galaxies, and a proto cluster of five redshift six galaxies, meaning they were roughly 12.5 billion light years away. We then had a talk from a PhD student who was both researching the correlation between Gravitational Waves and Fast Radio Bursts, as this could be evidence of Neutron Star collisions causing FRBs, and also was an Outreach officer. She then talked about different outreach programs and activities, as well the optimal university path. Finally, project leader Dr Nick Seymour spoke to us about his search for very distant galaxies.
We started at ICRAR UWA by meeting with a Swedish theoretical astrophysicist who studies galaxies. We also heard a story about his interesting experience on the ESA’s zero-G airplane. We then watched a video from Dr Alan Duffy about cosmology. Cosmology is the study of the universe on very large scales to determine its origin, evolution and fate. We learnt about its components, shape, age, history and expansion. Afterwards we were given around half an hour to ask our supervisor any questions we have about astronomy. We had the concept of special relativity, spacetimes ‘shape’ and many other concepts that are very difficult to learn by google searches. Then the Executive Director of ICRAR UWA discussed all the benefits of University, especially undergraduates, with us and told us his career path. Next, we were given the resources and time to construct a full-sized model of a SKA-Law radio telescope, AAVS 2.0 which is currently displayed at the entrance to the building. Finally, we ended our work experience by interviewing a specialist in simulations talk about his job and career.