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USQ Astrophysics Group

The Astrophysics Group is a dynamic and friendly team within USQ’s Computational Engineering and Science Research Centre. 

Mt Kent Observatory 
 Mt Kent Observatory

Our activities are aligned with global efforts to understand the formation, evolution and habitability of planetary systems, and our collaborative approach enables our eight research-active staff and an international network of adjuncts and over twenty research students to work with leading research institutions worldwide.

Research

Our research blends observational and computational studies to discover and characterise exoplanets, to better understand the formation and evolution of our Solar system, and study the interaction between young, active stars and their planetary systems. We are also a partner in the Australian Desert Fireball Network, and are in the process of deploying a network of cameras throughout Southern Queensland to detect and recover meteorite falls.

Our research involves a range of national and international collaborations:

BCool: Observations of stellar magnetic fields, activity and winds

DFN: Early Solar system studies using a network of meteor cameras

KELT: Discovery of planets around bright, nearby stars

MINERVA: A search for potentially habitable planets around nearby stars

STARWINDS: Stellar winds and space weather in planetary systems

Veloce: A precision instrument to search for solar system analogues

Facilities

USQ operates Mt Kent Observatory outside Toowoomba, a dark-sky site with multiple modern remote-access telescopes, high speed Internet access, and where we are constructing a dedicated leading-edge planet finding facility called MINERVA-Australis operational from 2017. Staff and students also access major Australian and international observatories for their research, and extensive eResearch facilities are provided, including two local High Performance Computing clusters as well as assisted access to national computing infrastructure. Current USQ research and research training facilities for student use include:

Mt Kent Observatory's three remote-access CCD imaging telescopes:

  • FSQ: Takahashi FSQ106-ED refractor for wide-field imaging and photometry.
  • CDK20 South: PlaneWave 0.5m telescope for general imaging and photometry.
  • CDK700: PlaneWave 0.7m telescope for precision stellar activity and exoplanet photometry.

These telescopes are operated via a Shared Skies Partnership that also provides northern-sky access.

eResearch Facilities: High Performance Computing facilities and Big Data storage and transfer via CloudStor

Library: Online as well as local access to research journals and eBooks

Our research staff and students also access major Australian and international research facilities including;

USQ also provides a regular free wifi-equipped intercampus shuttle bus service for students and staff.

Studies

Detailed information on research studies at USQ can be found on our website:

Master of Science (Astrophysics)

Master of Science (Research)

Doctor of Applied Science

Doctor of Philosophy

Research Scholarships

Staff

Our staff research interests are principally focused on stellar astronomy and planetary systems:

USQ also maintains an extensive Australian and international network of adjunct staff who broaden and deepen the supervisory expertise available to our research students.