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Professor Michael Murphy

Professor, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing


Professor Michael Murphy is an observational astrophysicist at Swinburne’s Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing. His research examines various aspects of cosmology, the universe’s properties and evolution on the largest possible scales.

Professor Murphy specialises in the spectra of quasars, particularly the absorption lines imprinted on them by very distant galaxies between the quasars and Earth. Using this technique, he has made significant contributions to the field of measuring the fundamental constants of nature in the distant, early universe.

Together with collaborators at UNSW, Professor Murphy won the 2012 Eureka Prize for Scientific Research. From 2003 to 2005 Professor Murphy was a research fellow at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge and took up a PPARC Advanced Fellowship (now known as an STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellowship) from 2005 to mid-2007. He also held an Australian Research Council QEII Fellowship at Swinburne from 2008 to 2012. Professor Murphy is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Physics, a Fellow of the Astronomical Society of Australia (FASA) and a member of the International Astronomical Union.

Research interests

Astronomy; Galaxies and quasars in the distant Universe; Cosmological variations in the laws of nature; The large-scale structure of the Universe; The evolution of the Universe; Precision spectroscopy in astronomy

PhD candidate and honours supervision

Higher degrees by research

Accredited to supervise Masters & Doctoral students as Principal Supervisor.

PhD topics and outlines

Pristine gas in the early universe: Several research directions are possible within this topic, though most will involve using bright, distant quasars to probe galaxies and intergalactic gas. Some example topics include: Identifying pristine gas in the early Universe; Weighing the universe via deuterium absorption; Tracking the intergalactic medium's thermal state; and Studying how galaxies are fueled by new gas.


Available to supervise honours students.

Fields of Research

  • Cosmology And Extragalactic Astronomy - 020103
  • Astronomical And Space Instrumentation - 020102
  • Galactic Astronomy - 020104


  • 2012, National, Eureka Prize for Scientific Research, Australian Museum
  • 2008, Swinburne, Vice-Chancellor's Research Excellence Award, Swinburne University of Technology
  • 2005, Other, UNSW U-Committee Prize for Excellence in Science, University of New South Wales

Further information