Current Students

UTAS student's blazar of glory

Ross Turner

A UTAS undergraduate student has made an important scientific discovery.

Ross Turner, 23, was undertaking the Dean’s Summer Research Scholarship in the UTAS School of Maths and Physics.

Ross' project involved analysing data from the UTAS Ceduna 30m radio telescope and from the Very Large Array in New Mexico (the world's premier radio interferometer).

The observations were of an object called PKS 1144-379, a distant, powerful blazar (a type of quasar).

The radio waves which Ross observed were emitted by the blazar nearly eight billion years ago.

Ross used the bending of these radio waves by clouds of electrons within the Milky Way to form a virtual telescope and study the black-hole in the centre of PKS1144-379 at very high resolution.

By observing the naturally occurring bending of the light, he was able to make observations of the region near the black hole in much greater detail than is possible using an Earth-based telescope. 

The results of his research have been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the premier rapid publication journal in the field.

Ross was supervised by Physics' Dr Stas Shabala and Dr Simon Ellingsen.

"This is an impressive result to achieve while still an undergraduate," said Dr Ellingsen.

"We look forward to seeing what Ross might achieve in the future."

For more information on the Dean’s Summer Research Scholarship funded by the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology visit the Dean's Summer Research Scholarships page.

Image: (Left to right) Dr Simon Ellingsen, Ross Turner and Dr Stas Shabala.

Published on: 13 Aug 2012 3:08pm