Vacation Scholarships in Astronomy at CAS
The Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing (CAS) accepts applications for Vacation Scholarships from enthusiastic university students with excellent scholastic records who are in the last, or second last, year of their undergraduate or Honours/Masters degree.
With 16 research faculty and more than 30 post-docs and PhD students, CAS is a vibrant, friendly environment for studying most fields of astronomy. Swinburne astronomers have guaranteed access to the twin Keck 10-m Telescopes in Hawaii - the world's premier optical observatory - and CAS owns and operates one of Australia's most powerful supercomputers - The Green Machine. We also develop advanced immersive 3D data visualization facilities and create 3-D animations and movies promoting and explaining astronomy to the broader community.
Swinburne's Hawthorn campus is situated in a lively, urban setting just minutes by public transport from Melbourne's city centre.
Our Vacation Scholarship program aims to provide undergraduate students with some insight into how exciting research is and how it is conducted. Students will join a research project, or maybe help start a new one, in one of the many areas of astronomy in which CAS staff and post-docs are experts. The various projects on offer are listed below. Projects can involve all aspects of astronomical research, from proposing or carrying out new telescope observations, to analysing some of the data or conducting theoretical calculations or advanced simulations. Many previous students have eventually published peer-reviewed research articles on some of their Vacation Scholarship research.
Applications can be made at any time throughout the year. We particularly encourage applicants to work over the summer months, December to February.
This program is open to undergraduates at Australian & New Zealand universities. Applications from students outside of Australia & New Zealand with exceptional scholastic records may also be considered.
Scholarships will generally last between 6 and 10 weeks, to be negotiated between the student and their nominated supervisor. Vacation Scholars are paid a tax-free stipend of $500 per week. CAS will also pay for one return trip from within Australia & New Zealand to Melbourne for eligible students.
Applications should include the following:
Applicants should also ask a lecturer or supervisor at their current university to send a letter of recommendation. This should be sent by the lecturer/supervisor directly; applicants should not include reference letters in their own application.
Applications and reference letters should be emailed to Dr. Thibault Garel (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the above information attached (preferably as PDF documents).
The cover letter is important and should
(i) set out why you are interested in undertaking a vacation scholarship at Swinburne and
(ii) list at least two research projects you are interested in working on. See below for the current list of projects on offer.
The following list outlines particular projects currently on offer. Contact the staff member(s) listed for more information. Other projects, not listed here, may be possible; contact the staff member whom you feel is most suited to your ideas and discuss other possible projects of mutual interest.(Updated 10/05/2013)
Next-generation Instrumentation for Radio Pulsar Astronomy.
High-precision pulsar timing with future telescopes such as the Square Kilometre Array will be ultimately limited by the impulsive noise that is intrinsic to the pulsar signal. Although techniques have been developed to mitigate the effects of pulsar self-noise (also known as phase jitter), modern pulsar instruments at the world's premiere observatories do not record the statistical information required to apply these methods. For this project, software that computes the periodic correlation of the Stokes parameters will be developed for general-purpose graphics processing units and demonstrated using pulsar data recorded at the Parkes Observatory. The software developed for this project will be useful in a wide variety of experiments, ranging from studies of the pulsar emission mechanism to improving the sensitivity of pulsar timing arrays. A strong background in the fundamentals of digital signal processing and experience with the C++ programming language would be highly beneficial. The applicant should also have either some direct experience or a keen interest in learning to use the CUDA parallel computing platform and programming model.
Supervisor: Dr. Willem van Straten.
Discovering the most distant supernovae: Understanding stellar and galactic processes in the early Universe.
Massive stars end their lives in violent, extremely luminous supernova explosions. Some supernovae are so luminous that they can be seen across the visible Universe, back to a time shortly after the Big Bang. Our team has developed a method to detect the supernova deaths of massive stars out to distances when the Universe was only about 10% it's current age. As a result, high-redshift discoveries hold the promise of uncovering the deaths of the very first stars to form after the Big Bang. Because massive stars live very short lives, their supernova deaths at these great distances can be used to trace the formation rate of stars over the history of the Universe. In addition, the enormous energies supernovae release make a significant impact on the star formation processes in their host galaxy. In this project, the student will search for high-redshift supernovae in deep images from large telescope surveys and study previous high-redshift events using deep spectroscopy taken with the Keck 10-meter telescope. The supernovae discovered by the student will help measure the supernova rate over cosmic time and to test whether galaxies create stars following the same laws throughout time.
Supervisor: Dr. Jeffrey Cooke.
Nature vs. Nurture: Investigating the effects of interactions and environment on the shape and properties of distant galaxies.
There are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the Universe, yet all these galaxies are seen today in essentially two basic shapes: Spirals and Ellipticals. Our understanding of galaxy formation and evolution states that the massive galaxies we see in the local Universe were built from the merging and interaction of smaller galaxies over cosmic time. However, this process alone falls short of producing the star formation and shapes of galaxies we see around us today. The interaction of galaxies in certain environments is known to strip the gas and stars in galaxies and has a large impact on their resulting star formation, gas content, and shape. Identifying the roles that mergers/interactions and environment play is crucial to understand the complicated process of galaxy evolution. Understanding these effects in the early Universe, at a time when galaxies were experiencing their most formative period is challenging and, thus, has not been done to any great extent to date. Our team has developed a method to identify distant interactions and galaxies in different environments. In this project, the student will study deep imaging and spectroscopy obtained using the 4-meter Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and 10-meter Keck telescope. He/she will identify and study distant merging and interacting galaxies and galaxies in different environments: groups, clusters, and in the field. These data will be used to help quantify the effects of each process and their evolutionary effects over time to produce the galaxies we see around us today.
Supervisor: Dr. Jeffrey Cooke.
Software development for WiFeS datacubes. No longer available.
1. Develop code (following code written by J.Mould) to feed WiFeS ANU-processed blue side datacubes to IRAF and make kinematic maps.
2. Take Christina Blom's SAMI blue side absorption line mapping code and similarly integrate it in as WiFeS software.
3. Write similar H alpha emission line mapping software for red side ANU-processed datacubes.
4. Publish results for a sample of WiFeS observed HIPASS galaxies.
Supervisor: Prof. Jeremy Mould.
Supervisor: Prof. Karl Glazebrook.