New type of massive explosion explains mystery star

‘Magneto-rotational hypernova’ soon after the Big Bang fuelled high levels of uranium, zinc in ancient stellar oddity

A massive explosion from a previously unknown source – 10 times more energetic than a supernova – could be the answer to a 13-billion-year-old Milky Way mystery.

Astronomers led by David Yong, Gary Da Costa and Chiaki Kobayashi from Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence in All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) based at the Australian National University (ANU) have potentially discovered the first evidence of the destruction of a collapsed rapidly spinning star – a phenomenon they describe as a “magneto-rotational hypernova”.

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Where does it hurt, Rover?

Adelaide invention revolutionises veterinary x-rays

Your best friend can’t tell you where it hurts but now, thanks to an invention by Adelaide company Micro-X, vets have a better tool to diagnose your pet’s health problems.

The Micro-X Rover, a mobile x-ray machine was first designed for the Australian military as an ultra-mobile battlefield-ready x-ray machine delivering the full spectrum of imaging solutions.

It has now been adapted to be used by vets, using custom software tailored for small animal exams by Micro-X’s US partner Varex Imaging Corporation.

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Bend it like Einstein: Astronomers turn galaxies into magnifiers

New technique helps NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

Astronomers have turned a cluster of galaxies into a gargantuan magnifying lens, using it to study another galaxy, 10.7 billion light years away, in unprecedented detail.

Taking advantage of a phenomenon known as “gravitational lensing”, the team of scientists, led by NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre scientist Dr Soniya Sharma, identified star forming regions in the distant and ancient galaxy.

The research was funded by Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence in All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D), and will be of direct benefit to NASA’s next orbiting observer.

Without the use of the massive magnifying effect, the galaxy, dubbed cswa128, would be a tiny blur to even the most powerful telescopes on Earth. With it, the astronomers can see stars being formed just three billion years after the Big Bang.

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Milky Way not unusual, astronomers find

Detailed cross-section of another galaxy reveals surprising similarities to our home

The first detailed cross-section of a galaxy broadly similar to the Milky Way, published today, reveals that our galaxy evolved gradually, instead of being the result of a violent mash-up. The finding throws the origin story of our home into doubt.

The galaxy, dubbed UGC 10738, turns out to have distinct ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ discs similar to those of the Milky Way. This suggests, contrary to previous theories, that such structures are not the result of a rare long-ago collision with a smaller galaxy. They appear to be the product of more peaceful change.

And that is a game-changer. It means that our spiral galaxy home isn’t the product of a freak accident. Instead, it is typical.

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Celebrating Europe Day in Canberra

The European Union is a major driver of scientific research. Stories of European-Australian Research highlights the scope of collaboration between Europe and Australia that spans almost every discipline.

These include:

(Updated stories for Europe Day 2021)

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Stronger materials for bigger turbines

The Danish wind turbine company Vestas is teaming up with Australian scientists to develop stronger carbon fibre composite materials to be used in reinforcing turbine blades.

Updated for Europe Day, 7 June 2021

Vestas has funded two years of research at Deakin University’s Carbon Nexus facility in Geelong into strengthening carbon fibre.

The investment is part of a project to build two wind farms in Victoria that together will deliver more than 500 megawatts, enough to power 350,000 homes.

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Making wine in a warming world

South Australian winemakers are looking to Europe as the climate—and what drinkers want—is changing.

Grapes don’t ripen the way they used to. As temperatures climb, they are getting sweeter faster.

Winemakers find that by the time the crop achieves the right colour or level of tannins, the grapes contain more sugar. More sugar means heavier, more alcoholic wine. At the same time, drinkers are preferring lighter wines Continue reading Making wine in a warming world

Lifesaving COVID-19 treatments fast tracked

A global adaptive clinical trial has established which treatments will save lives in intensive care wards across Europe and Australia.

In the first year of the pandemic they tested over 30 interventions in more than 300 hospitals with  6,000 COVID patients.

“The rapid rollout of REMAP-CAP has only been possible because of years of pre-pandemic preparation backed by the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada,” says Professor Allen Cheng from Monash University and a founder of the trial. Professor Cheng is also currently serving as Victoria’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer.

Read our longer story about REMAP-CAP at https://bit.ly/3e2IRQJ

And visit them at https://www.remapcap.org/ 

More than 60 years to achieve gender equity?

Modelling shows urgent need to revamp hiring and working conditions for astronomers

It will take until at least 2080 before women make up just one-third of Australia’s professional astronomers, an analysis published today in the journal Nature Astronomy reveals.

“Astronomers have been leaders in gender equity initiatives, but our programs are not working fast enough,” says Professor Lisa Kewley, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D).

Professor Lisa Kewley.
Credit: ASTRO 3D

Kewley is also an ARC Laureate Fellow at the Australian National University’s Research School for Astronomy and Astrophysics. She developed workforce forward modelling that can predict the fraction of women at all levels in astronomy from 2021 to 2060, given different initiatives in hiring or retention. The models show that Australia’s university leadership need to adopt 50:50 or affirmative action hiring and introduce exit surveys and retention initiatives.

“With these initiatives we can reach one-third women in 11 years, growing to 50 per cent in 25,” she said.

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