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Guest Speaker - Dr Maria Cunningham (UNSW)
Thursday 05 October 2017, 07:30pm - 09:30pm
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Understanding Star Formation in the Age of “Big Data” and “Software Telescopes”

Star formation in the Milky Way and other Galaxies is governed by the interplay between gravity, turbulence, and magnetic fields. However, we still do not have a good understanding of how stars form, and how they influence, and are influenced by, their local environment. 

In this talk I will describe why understanding star formation is important for understanding the evolution of the Universe – massive stars drive the evolution of galaxies, which are the building blocks of the Universe – and how both large numbers of astrophysical observations combined with computer modelling can help us understand star formation.

This talk will emphasise the role of observations of molecules in space for understanding star formation, including understanding how complex molecules may be delivered to the surface of newly formed planets by comets and meteorites, seeding life.

Maria CunninghamDr Maria Cunningham

is Senior Lecturer in Astrophysics at the Universtity of New South Walres

Her research interests are in radio, millimetre and sub-millimetre astronomy, molecular line astronomy, bioastronomy and computational astrophysics.

Dr Cunningham is currently working on several projects, including:

  • Detecting new complex organic molecules in space, and hopefully finding some of the building blocks of life;
  • Using very complex organic molecules to put an evolutionary sequence on the formation of stars;
  • Determining how the structure of the Milky Galaxy affect the formation of stars,...

In 2015 UNSW’s Postgraduate Council awarded Dr Maria Cunningham the "Outstanding Excellence in Postgraduate Research Supervision Award".