Mt Stromlo Summer Student Presentations 2014

This summer Mt Stromlo Observatory has hosted two undergraduate student programs that develop skills in astronomy, astrophysics and space engineering, and a broader understanding of the industry.

To celebrate the completion of these programs you are invited to attend the final presentations, meet the students and network with the experts that have supported them.

Summer Scholars

The Summer Scholars program gives undergraduate students an insight into what studying Honours or a postgraduate research degree is all about. Under the supervision of one of Stromlo’s eminent researchers, students complete an individual research project

AITC Interns

The AITC Internship program gives undergraduate engineering students hands-on experience. Students contribute to an active project under the supervision of AITC technical experts and industry specialists.

Northrop Grumman International Externship Program

Thanks to support from Northrop Grumman through their International Externship Program, this program could be opened to students Australia wide. ANU is proud to be working with Northrop Grumman to train the industry professionals of the future.


1.00 – 1:10


1:10 – 1:30

Fiona Panther: Strange Origins: Searching for the source of Galactic Centre positrons

40 years of balloon and satellite based observations of the 511keV positron-electron annihilation line imply the annihilation of ~10^43 positrons per second in the Galactic Bulge. While positron-electron annihilation is observed throughout the galaxy, the rate is some 1.4 times greater in the Galactic Bulge compared to the Galactic Disk. The origin of this increased positron annihilation rate in the Galactic Bulge has remained mysterious since it’s discovery, with various explanations ranging from supernova activity to exotic physics of Dark Matter. We consider the unique environment of the Galactic Bulge, particularly with regards to the evolution of massive stars, as we search for a source of Galactic Centre positrons.

1:30 – 1:50

Anna Zovaro: Optical Bench Artificial Source Upgrade and Beam Centering Mirror Camera Prototype

Laser Guide Stars (LGS) are a crucial part of any adaptive optics (AO) system, allowing wave front distortions caused by atmospheric turbulence to be measured and corrected. For optimum performance, proper alignment of the LGS beam on its associated optics is essential, corresponding to the correction of wave front tip and tilt. A prototype control system for the beam centering mirror (BCM) used for this purpose in the LGS transfer optics in the Adaptive Optics Demonstrator for Tracking Space Debris (AOD) is presented. The control system was simulated in MATLAB and designed and tested on an optical bench, using a simple tip-tilt mirror and a camera to provide feedback.

1:50 – 2:10

Joshua D’Agostina: A Geometric Model for the Fermi Bubbles at the Galactic Center

The Fermi Bubbles are the second largest structures in the Galaxy: giant lobes that extend out from the Galactic nucleus many kiloparsecs into the halo of the Milky Way. The ultimate source of energy for the Bubbles remains mysterious but is likely to be either the super-massive black hole at the centre of the Galaxy or star formation occurring near the black hole. The project involved producing a geometric model for the Fermi Bubbles, their magnetic field structure and cosmic ray electron population, and the synchrotron emission from these electrons using analytical and computational techniques.


2:10 – 2:30

Elliot Thorn and Alex Stuchbery: Vibrational and Thermal Measurements of Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics for Tracking Space Debris

Accurately tracking space debris can reduce the possibility of orbital collisions. Performance of Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics (LGS AO)- assisted laser tracking stations are dependent upon telescope and LGS AO components. The guidestar laser vibration environment and Coud_e mirror temperature gradients were measured to improve performance of Mount Stromlo’s laser-tracking station. The methodology, results and implications of the measurements will be discussed.

2:30 – 3:00


3:00 – 3:20

Melanie Hampel: Chemical Abundances in Metal-poor Stars

In order to understand the formation of heavy elements, i.e. heavier than Fe, neutron capture processes have to be studied. Depending on the neutron densities available at different stellar sites, different elements can be formed in the slow- (s-process) or the rapid neutron capture process (r-process). During my summer research internship I studied the abundances of heavy elements in two stars belonging to the poorly studied globular cluster M80 using MIKE spectra from the Maggelan Telescope. Previous studies by Cavallo et al. (2004) found a high [Eu/Fe] abundance, which would be unusual among globular clusters. Using La and Eu as tracers for the s- and r-process respectively I confirm that the La/Eu ratio is close to the scaled solar r-process distribution.

3:20 – 3:40

Matthew Vella and Ishraj Inderjeet: AstroSat Conceptual  Design

CubeSats are cost-effective and relatively simple to build, yet are capable of delivering useful science from space. A call was put out to the Australian astronomical community to collect ideas for a well-justified science mission to be flown on a CubeSat. The community gathered at an AstroSat workshop in December 2014 to evaluate the proposals and select what could be Australia’s next space-based astronomy mission. We assisted in the down-selection process by evaluating each of the proposed missions before the workshop to identify and define any engineering challenges or risks. During the workshop three missions were shortlisted; two optical astronomy missions and one mission that will support radio astronomy. A conceptual design of the satellite and mission architecture was then completed for each mission in conjunction with the lead scientists. This design process is ongoing. The evaluation process and the conceptual design for each mission will be discussed in this presentation.


3:40 – 4:00

Shao Qi Lim: Blazar Modeling

Blazars are one of the most energetic astronomical phenomena observed in our universe and was detected to emit radiation in the TeV range by instruments like H.E.S.S. It is puzzling and astonishing how blazars are capable of achieving such high energy scales. Such scales were only recently made achievable by particle accelerators like the LHC, which took mankind decades to build. In this presentation I will present to you the synchrotron self-Compton model which attempts to explain the mechanism that allows blazars to achieve such energies and then compare actual spectral emission data from several well-known blazars to the predictions made by this model.

4:00 – 4:20

Laila Sezin: Novel Concepts for Geostationary Debris Orbit Measurements It has been researched and found that the satellite in geostationary orbit is in danger of colliding with the space debris at Geo. In order to prevent a collision, a new project is developed by the Space Environment Management Cooperative Research Centre (SERC) which proposed Geo Space Debris tracking System. Under that SERC project, this project determines the best and most efficient performance and operating parameters of the Geo Space Debris tracking System, by establishing a detailed error budgets. This project also provides the constraints and design guidance for the system that will make it possible to determine the location, date and time of collision with highest possible accuracy. The report includes all the analysis, calculations as well as the numerical and computational simulations. A brief analysis of the results will be presented.

4:20 – 4:40

Joshua Rippon: Micro-variability of Quasar Accretion Disks Observed with the Kepler Space Mission

From 2014 the Skymapper Telescope began a survey of the Southern Sky. Part of the observations will include data on roughly 1000 quasars which are supermassive blackholes at the centre of galaxies that are surrounded by hot and luminous accretion disks. The accretion disks change lumonisity as they are heated by the extremely hot accretion flow around the blackhole. We currently know very little about the short term variability of quasars so this project will investigate the variations in the light curves of a few quasars over the span of a month and also address some constraints on the sensitivity of the Skymapper data.

4:40 – 5:00

Closing remarks

5:00 – 6:00

Networking drinks sponsored by the AIAA Sydney Chapter

Networking Event

Registered participants are invited to join the students, supervisors and industry experts for drinks and light refreshments. This networking session is sponsored by the AIAA Sydney Section

Flyer: Mount Stromlo Students Presentations (PDF, 700kB)

Cost: Free

Registration: Eventbrite


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