Presentation by Dr Andrew Cole
Royal Society Room
Tuesday, 6th October 2009 Commencing 8.00pm until 10.00pm
About the Speaker
Andrew was born in Brookhaven (suburban New York) in 1972 and spent his entire childhood there. He finished a Bachelor of Science degree in physics & astronomy at Yale University in 1994, where he wrote a senior thesis on the influence of rapid rotation on the evolution of stars. From there Andrew went on to the University of Wisconsin where he got his Ph.D. in astronomy in 1999, studying how the properties of red giant stars vary in galaxies smaller than the Milky Way– with particular focus on the chemical composition of stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite of the Milky Way that has about 5% of the mass of our galaxy. Afterwards Dr Cole worked on an infrared survey of the sky, and then used some of the largest telescopes in the world, the 8-metre Very Large Telescope in northern Chile, to make the first-ever measurements of the how the chemistry of dwarf galaxies like the Magellanic Clouds has changed over their lifetimes by measuring the calcium and iron abundances of stars aged between 1 and 13 billion years. In Andrews own words he “came to Tasmania in 2007 recognizing the longstanding Australian research strength in studies of the Magellanic Clouds, the chance to use the UTAS telescopes whenever and for whatever purpose I wanted, and to apply my stellar populations expertise to the statistics of searching for planets outside the Solar System.”
Brief Abstract of the Talk
There is a long history of astrophysical research in Tasmania, undertaken by scientists exploiting our unique location to attack some of the most challenging and important problems in contemporary astronomy. In both radio and optical astronomy, Tasmanian scientists continue to lead the way in new discoveries, supported by a new generation of telescopes and instrumentation. Dr Cole will discuss some of these programmes of discovery, including the search for earthlike planets orbiting distant stars, the quest for a deeper understanding of the Sun as a star, and clues to the origins, evolution, and interrelationships of the Milky Way and its satellite galaxies. These and other projects will be greatly advanced by the arrival of a new 1.3-metre, remotely-operable optical telescope in the southern midlands at Bisdee Tier.