New astrophysics facility in Sydney could hold the key to secrets of the universe

22 November 2012

New South Wales Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Stoner says a new astrophysics facility in the heart of Sydney has the potential to lead the world in discovering the secrets of the universe.

Mr Stoner officially opened the new facility, which will house the Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) and up to 100 leading astrophysicists, in Redfern today (Nov 21).

"The goal of SIfA and CAASTRO is to bring the disparate fields of astrophysics, with their gazes pointed at different parts of the sky, and unify them in an "all-sky" approach to get the biggest, clearest and most comprehensive picture of the universe possible," he said.

"This approach to astrophysics gives them the greatest chance of discovering the most elusive secrets of the universe and of establishing NSW and Australia as the world leader in astronomy.

"Apart from the massive potential of discovery, this research work has possible outcomes and applications in everything from communications to medical imaging to remote sensing.

"And the exciting sense of discovery generated by SIfA and CAASTRO, which will be enhanced under the one roof, also has the potential to inspire the next generation of NSW's scientists and engineers, who are crucial to our future."

CAASTRO is led by the University of Sydney, in conjunction with the Australian National University, the Universities of Melbourne and Western Australia, Curtin and Swinburne Universities and complemented by a group of Australian and international partners.

"This new facility will further enhance CAASTRO's highly respected research capacity, housing up to 100 scientists under one roof," Mr Stoner said.

"Among the luminaries are CAASTRO's Lead Chief Investigator Professor Bryan Gaensler, a Hubble Fellow and one of the world's foremost experts on supernovas.

"Another outstanding CAASTRO researcher is 2012 NSW Young Tall Poppy of the Year Dr Tara Murphy, who will be leading a major international project that will run on the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder.

"These two, and CAASTRO's many other leading scientists, bring considerable expertise in areas such as radio astronomy, optical astronomy, theoretical astrophysics and computation.

"Thanks to these new facilities they will have access to cutting edge equipment that will enable the processing of massive data from their various fields, combining outcomes to give them an "all-sky" picture of the universe."

Mr Stoner said the NSW Government had provided funding support for CAASTRO that had enabled them to gain $20.6 million Commonwealth grants over seven years through the ARC Centre of Excellence Program.