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.

Continue reading Milky Way not unusual, astronomers find

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)

More stories

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.

Continue reading Stronger materials for bigger turbines

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.

Continue reading More than 60 years to achieve gender equity?

Can a brain scanner fit into an ambulance?

Innovative Adelaide-based manufacturer Micro-X has received funding to develop a game-changing portable brain scanner from the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

The scanner will be small enough to be placed in ambulances or Royal Flying Doctor Service aircraft and will give more Australians rapid access to treatment in the crucial first “golden hour” after a stroke.

It is expected to revolutionise stroke care particularly for rural and remote Australians who are twice as likely as city stroke survivors to be left with a serious, lifelong disability.

Continue reading Can a brain scanner fit into an ambulance?

At cosmic noon, puffy galaxies make stars for longer

Galaxies with extended disks maintain productivity, research reveals

Massive galaxies with extra-large extended “puffy” disks produced stars for longer than their more compact cousins, new modelling reveals.

In a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, researchers led by Dr Anshu Gupta and Associate Professor Kim-Vy Tran from Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence in All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D), show that the sheer size of a galaxy influences when it stops making new stars. 

Continue reading At cosmic noon, puffy galaxies make stars for longer

The secrets of 3000 galaxies laid bare

Completion of Australian-led astronomy project sheds light on the evolution of the Universe

The complex mechanics determining how galaxies spin, grow, cluster and die have been revealed following the release of all the data gathered during a massive seven-year Australian-led astronomy research project.

The scientists observed 13 galaxies at a time, building to a total of 3068, using a custom-built instrument called the Sydney-AAO Multi-Object Integral-Field Spectrograph (SAMI), connected to the 4-metre Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) at Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales. The telescope is operated by the Australian National University.

Continue reading The secrets of 3000 galaxies laid bare

Hundreds of Aussie science achievements that you can share in speeches, posts and publications