USQ research in observational astronomy and computational astrophysics is conducted by the Astrophysics Group at USQ’s Computational Engineering and Science Research Centre, and is focused on stellar astronomy and planetary systems. A key motivation for the research is the rapid growth in exoplanet science and the role of stellar activity in planet formation, evolution and habitability. USQ research in astronomy and astrophysics is done within the following international collaborations:
- Anglo-Australian Planet Search: A radial velocity planet survey of solar-type stars
- Collaborative Search for Rocky Planets: A radial velocity planet survey of red dwarfs
- The Bcool project: Observations of the magnetic activity of cool stars
- Space weather in planetary systems: Modelling the activity of planet-hosting stars
- Shared Skies Partnership: Research & development in robotic astronomy
Astronomy at USQ is supported by University and external funding and time awarded on major national and international optical and radio telescope facilities, including the 3.9m Anglo-Australian Telescope and 2.3m telescope at Siding Spring, the 6.5m Magellan Clay telescope at Las Campanas (Chile), and the 2m Téléscope Bernot Lyot at Pic du Midi (France).
The USQ Mt Kent Observatory is now dedicated to robotic and remote-access astronomy, but is sometimes used for special USQ events.