Episode 11: A Trip Down Under

with Dr Ivy Wong, Dr Brenda Namumba and Professor Peter Quinn

Jacinta takes us on a tour of her homeland, into the Australian bush, and chats about pathfinders, precursors and the exciting collaborations between South Africa and Australia!

Precursor telescopes like the South African MeerKAT and HERA (Hydrogen Epoch of Reionisation Array), along with the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) and Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) are providing SKA scientists with invaluable knowledge to assist in the design of the SKA’s main telescopes over the coming decade.

Pathfinder telescopes and systems, such as the now-retired KAT-7 (Karoo Array Telescope) are dotted around the globe and are also engaged in SKA related technology and science studies.

First, we hear from Dr Ivy Wong, a researcher at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth, about large surveys of neutral hydrogen gas in galaxies and the results shared at the 12th PHISCC (Pathfinders HI Science Coordination Committee) Conference.

Neutral Hydrogen atoms produce radio emission at a wavelength of 21cm or a frequency of 1420 MHz. This emission is commonly referred to as HI and it is the raw fuel of star formation.

We are then joined by newly capped Dr Brenda Namumba from the University of Cape Town. She tells us about her exciting work using the pathfinder to MeerKAT, the KAT-7 telescope.

Finally, Jacinta sits down with Professor Peter Quinn, the Director of ICRAR. They chat about the the incredible growth of radio astronomy in both South Africa and Australia over the recent years, and the enormous collaboration opportunities the SKA is creating between the two countries!

Featured Image:
CSIRO’s Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope, located at CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. Credit: CSIRO/Dragonfly Media

This weeks guests:

Related Links:
CSIRO: https://www.csiro.au/
ICRAR: https://www.icrar.org/
ASKAP: https://www.atnf.csiro.au/projects/askap/index.html
MWA: www.mwatelescope.org/
MeerKAT: https://www.ska.ac.za/gallery/meerkat/
HERA: https://www.ska.ac.za/science-engineering/hera/
SARAO: https://www.ska.ac.za/about/sarao/
UCT Astronomy: http://www.ast.uct.ac.za/

Episode 10: Stars behaving badly!

with Priscilla Muheki and Prof Hakeem Oluseyi

We are joined by two experts in stellar astronomy, Priscilla Muheki from Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda and Distinguished Professor Hakeem Oluseyi from the Florida Institute of Technology.

Priscilla talks about her PhD research in Uganda studying violent outbursts, known as coronal mass ejections, from certain types of stars.

This animation shows a solar tsunami expanding out from an active region just after a solar flare on July 14, 2000. Credits: ESA/NASA/SOHO

Hakeem then goes on the explain these coronal mass ejections and the violent magnetic fields associated with them, and what effect they may have on both our technology and our entire planet!

Hakeem also talks about his visit to South Africa to assist in forming the African Astronomical Society (AfAS) and the incredible achievements of the South African National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP) which has produced over 150 MSc Students and 90 PhD’s!

Solar Cycle Prediction. 

Episode Links:
Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda: https://www.must.ac.ug/
Hakeem Oluseyi: https://www.fit.edu/faculty-profiles/4/hakeem-oluseyi/
AfAS: https://www.africanastronomicalsociety.org
NASSP: https://www.star.ac.za/

This weeks guests:

Episode 9: Simulating the Universe – Part 2

with Nicole Thomas and Dr Nathan Deg

We continue our discussion from Episode 8 on simulating the Universe, this week focusing on the simulation of actual galaxies.

Nicole explains the SIMBA suite of simulations she is working on. SIMBA is a set of simulations which look at how the super-massive black holes at the centre of galaxies affect the galaxy they live in. She also talks about her experience growing up and studying in Cape Town, and some of the challenges she’s faced.

A simulated galaxy from the SIMBA suite of simulations

Nathan chats with us about his work creating individual galaxies within a computer using a new code he has just published. Using this we can learn more about how galaxies change over time and interact with their environments.

Two colliding galaxies built in GalactICS by Dr Nathan Deg.

Episode Links:
UWC: http://astro.uwc.ac.za/
Royal Observatory Edinburgh: https://www.roe.ac.uk/
UCT Astronomy: http://www.ast.uct.ac.za/
Nathan’s Blog post about his code: https://nathandeg.com/2019/06/04/galactics-for-the-non-astronomers/
Nathan’s GalactICS paper: https://arxiv.org/abs/1904.12700

Featured Image:
Looking at two colliding galaxies built in GalactICS in virtual reality. Video by Dr Nathan Deg, generated in collaboration with Mr Sivitilli, Dr Comrie, and Prof Jarrett in the IDIA visualization laboratory.

This week’s guests: