When all of us arrived at the ICRAR office, we were greeted by Gregory who was the director of our work experience for the week. He brought myself as well as the other 3 work experience inside the office to have a look around and to have a small tour of the UWA ICRAR building. Once we had finished the small tour of the building, Gregory passed us over to Kevin who then gave us an hour talk about radio astronomy and gave us a rough idea of what they do on a day to day basis. Then we talked to Brent who is a professor at ICRAR who observes nearby galaxies and regions where stars are formed. He explained to us the use of infrared telescopes, and how they use space dust to find new star forming areas. Once our talk with Brent was over, we spoke to Professor Gerhardt who looks at how particular things in the galaxy, like as levels, can affect the formation of new stars. We looked at some images of galaxies that he had been studying prior to our talk and walked us through what sort of information they can give him. Near the end of the hour we had some time to ask some questions, and then it was lunch break. Straight after our lunch break was over, Ruby, who is one of the PHD students at ICRAR took us downstairs and talked about simulations. Ruby explained how astronomers use computer simulations to explain certain events that they can observe in space and to find the causes of those events. We got to see some of the simulations that she had been using for her project and how they are made. After talking with Ruby, we got to talk to Jen who is also another PHD student. Jen told us about the different pathways that can be used to get into an Astronomy career, as she had come to ICRAR in year 10 for her work experience. She is looking and studying the angular momentum of galaxies as her PHD project. We also talked about gravitational lensing and how astronomers can use it to find new stars.at the end of the talk we had some time to ask any questions, and then we headed upstairs to Gregory to get dismissed for the day.
When it was time to get started, we began our day by watching a video called “Cosmology 101” by Alan Duffy who was a former ICRAR member. After looking at the video we when downstairs with Tristan who had finished his Doctorate and had just started his Post-doctorate. Tristan told us about the research he was doing which was looking at the formation of early stars by looking at a galaxy’s gas content. He also talked to us a little about what he uses the ASKAP telescopes for. Next we talked to Luca who is an Italian professor at ICRAR. He explained to us what an angstrom is and when they would use that particular measurement of length, sand he also told us about how there can be gas shooting out of a galaxies centre. The last talk we had for the day was with multiple students who just gave us another overview on what they do at ICRAR and what astrophysicists do.
On the third day when we all arrived, Gregory got us to come into the conference room so that we could have a chat to Omima who is in her last year of doing her PHD, and ask her any questions we might have. Omima talked to us about what her PHD project is about and how she got into her position she is now. She had studied in her home country of Sudan for her early years, then she went to Italy to study for a year, then she came to study in Australia. She told us some facts like how cosmic dust grows by attracting other dust and gas particles through its gravity, and also how absorption lines can show different types of dust in he interstellar medium. After talking with Omima, we got to speak to Barbara who is also an Italian Professor and ICRAR. She began by talking about her past life in astronomy. Barbara did her undergraduate in Italy, PHD in the US, and her post-doctorate in Puerto Rico before coming to Australia. She spoke about the Arecibo radio telescope and explained how it worked as she had worked there when she was living in Puerto Rico. At the end we asked her some questions, and then it was time to talk to professor Chris. Chris talks to us about dark matter and dark energy and how we know about it but can’t detect that it exists. He also talked about some things that we theorise are correct but haven’t found any proof to back them up, such as we think super massive black holes in the centre of a galaxy form after the galaxy has already formed. We also got to ask him some questions before we went to lunch. Right after lunch was over we spoke to Lilian who had finished her PHD in Theoretical Astrophysics. She showed us some different types of code for simulations, and also looked at some general coding. We also got told how we can roughly do large scale simulations where 1 particle can equal 1 million solar masses, which just means 1 million times the mass of our sun. After speaking to Lilian, we talked to Dr Kate who had finished her PHD at ICRAR. Dr Kate is also a theorist and uses simulations to find things in the real world. The main thing we talked about was how theorists work with observers so that they can help them by making specific simulations of what they might be seeing in the sky.
Day 4 was the best day in my opinion, as we got to do more walking around and looking at pieces of equipment. We started off the day by walking up to the physics building at UWA and looked at the Spirit telescope which is a remote internet telescope that anyone can use from their computer. Once we had looked around the telescope, Gregory took us back to the ICRAR building so we could talk about any questions that we may have. After this, we had morning tea with all of the ICRAR students and staff for 35 minutes. When everyone had started to leave and get back o work, Greg took us downstairs so that he could show us how to put the maths we learnt into practice by calculating the mass of a galaxy. The formula was Mass=Radius*angular velocity2/gravitational constant. After talking about how to do this, we went on out lunch break. When lunch was over, we got to speak to Louis who is one of the engineers at ICRAR, and he took us on a tour of his workshop and office area on the UWA campus. We had a look at the engineering workshop that he sometimes works in and then he took us up to his office area which was where he was doing his project, which was looking how light can be moved when it travels through the atmosphere of Earth. We explained to us about some of the gear he had in his room like corner cube reflectors along with other items. He also explained how Earth’s orbit gets slower constantly from the gravitational connection our oceans have with the moon. We also got talked to about a little about quantum physics and quantum optics that he had done in the past. Afire this, we went back to the main building and met up with Gregory. For the last bit of the day we just tried out some virtual reality through and app that ICRAR had made with by teaming up with some other Astronomers and coders. This concluded our work experience and Greg gave us each a bag filled with stuff from ICRAR as a gift before he said goodbye.