Observatory gets more stargazing power
Astronomers have a powerful new stargazing gadget to explore the origins of the Milky Way at unprecedented speed.
The federal government believes it will not only help Australia remain a world leader in astronomy but also drive breakthroughs in other areas like big data and high performance computing.
These new instruments can capture and analyse light from up to 400 stars at the same time, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said as he launched the $13 million HERMES at Siding Spring Observatory near Coonabarabran on Wednesday.
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to funding science research and development, he said.
“If we only pursue the sure shots then knowledge will not progress either here or anywhere else,” he said.
The science developed in the design, construction and use of HERMES is flowing through to other areas such as big data analysis which could boost productivity in a range of industry.
Professor Brian Schmidt says astronomers deal regularly in huge amounts of data.
So this field provides a great vehicle for trying new ideas and techniques and training people to sift vast amounts of information for interesting bits.
But HERMES’ key job at the moment is a multinational survey of one million stars to explain the formation of the Milky Way, says HERMES project astronomer Ken Freeman.
“Before HERMES it would have taken about 300 years, now it will take a good five years,” he said.
HERMES, or High Efficiency and Resolution Multi Element Spectrograph, was developed over five years by the Australian Astronomy Observatory and is attached to the Anglo Australian Telescope.