Explosions and bursts lasting milliseconds to years occur in the universe every second. These bursts result from a wide variety of physical mechanisms but usually involve the lives and deaths of stars and their compact remnants, such as neutron stars and black holes.  

The Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing (CAS) astronomers lead a program focusing on the fastest of these events - the enigmatic fast radio bursts (FRB) and fast transients at all wavelengths with millisecond-to-hours durations.  Our observations, using telescopes such as ASKAP, Molonglo and Parkes, provide information that unveils the physical processes powering these fleeting, brilliant flashes, and allow them to be used for goals ranging from finding “missing” matter in the vast near-empty spaces between galaxies, to understanding the origins of the elements, to studying the magnetic fields that thread the universe.

CAS astronomers made a significant contribution to the first kilonova detection (GW170817) in August 2017.  Since that time, we have been deeply involved in kilonova searches generated by both binary neutron star mergers and neutron star - black hole mergers, working both locally and with international collaborations.

  • “CAS astronomers and engineers from the top institutes in the world are developing the Keck Wide-Field Imager.  It will be the most powerful camera in the world and will enable Australian and Keck astronomers to do science and discover new phenomena that cannot be done anywhere else, or by anyone else, even using future giant 30 metre-class telescopes.”

    Associate Professor Jeff Cooke , Centre of Astrophysics and Supercomputing

Our projects

Fast radio bursts with ASKAP 

Co-led at Swinburne, the Commensal Real-time Fast Transient (CRAFT) survey detects and localises fast radio bursts with the ASKAP array to both determine what causes FRBs and use them as cosmological probes.

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UTMOST studies of FRBs and pulsars 

The UTMOST telescope is a wide-field radio telescope with a powerful digital backend jointly operated by Swinburne and used to find and study radio pulsars and fast radio bursts.

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Supernova in the early universe and the first stars 

We developed a new approach that has discovered the most distant supernovae known, back when the universe was about 10 per cent of its current age, and that is capable of detecting the deaths of the first generation of stars to have formed after the Big Bang. These supernovae include the exotic superluminous supernovae and the long-sought-after pair-instability supernovae. 

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Kunlun Infrared Sky Survey is the first transient survey carried out in the near infrared. Kunlun Station is at Dome A on the Antarctic plateau and is operated remotely during the winter.

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Zooming in on cosmic fireballs

When the dense, massive stellar remnants called neutron stars collide, the result is a fiery, radioactive train wreck that can be seen from hundreds of millions of light years away. This project uses radio telescopes spread across the earth working in unison to sift through the glowing wreckage to determine the nature of the collision.

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The Deeper, Wider, Faster (DWF) program

DWF coordinates over 70 telescopes on every continent and in space at all wavelengths, including particle detectors, to detect and follow up fast (millisecond-to-hours duration), transients and very early transient detections in real time.

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Explosions and bursts occur in the universe every second and usually involve the lives and deaths of stars and their compact remnants.

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Contact the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing

If you have any questions, or are looking for more information, feel free to contact our office on +61 3 9214 8000 or at contact@astro.swin.edu.au.

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