ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in Three Dimensions (ASTRO-3D)

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The ARC Centre of Excellence in All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) unifies over 200 world-leading astronomers to understand the evolution of the matter, light, and elements from the Big Bang to the present day.

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Galaxies get more chaotic as they age

A comparison of a young (top) and old (bottom) galaxy observed as part of the SAMI Galaxy Survey. Subaru credit: Image from the Hyper Suprime-Cam Subaru Strategic Program

An international team led by Australian research centre ASTRO 3D reports that age is the driving force in changing how stars move within galaxies.

Galaxies start life with their stars rotating in an orderly pattern but in some the motion of stars is more random. Until now, scientists have been uncertain about what causes this – possibly the surrounding environment or the mass of the galaxy itself.

A new study, published in a paper today in MNRAS (Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society), has found that the most important factor is neither of these things. It shows the tendency of the stars to have random motion is driven mostly by the age of the galaxy – things just get messy over time.

“When we did the analysis, we found that age, consistently, whichever way we slice or dice it, is always the most important parameter,” says first author Prof Scott Croom, an ASTRO 3D researcher at the University of Sydney.

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Twin stars reveal planet-eating habits

A terrestrial planet being captured by a twin star. Artist’s impression by intouchable, © OPENVERSE.

At least one in a dozen stars show evidence of planetary ingestion according to a paper published in Nature today.

The international research team studied twin stars that should have identical composition. But, in about eight percent of cases, they differ, perplexing astronomers.

The team, led by ASTRO 3D researchers has found that the difference is due to one of the twins devouring planets or planetary material. The findings have been made possible thanks to a large dataset collected with the 6.5-metre Magellan Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, both in Chile, and the 10-meter Keck Telescope in Hawaii, United States.

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JWST reveals a massive and ancient galaxy that challenges our models of the young Universe

Galaxies and stars developed faster after the Big Bang than expected

Detailed pictures of one of the very first galaxies show growth was much faster than we thought

JWST shows details of massive galaxy merger 13 billion years ago (insert of another early galaxy shows how significant the new JWST images are)

An international research team have made unprecedentedly detailed observations of the earliest merger of galaxies ever witnessed. They suggest stars developed much faster and more efficiently than we thought.

They used the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to observe the massive object as it was 510 million years after the Big Bang – i.e. around 13 billion years ago.

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We achieved gender parity in astronomy in just five years

… all while discovering how the Universe evolved, how galaxies form and where the elements come from.

The ASTRO 3D team at the 2022 annual retreat. Credit: Cristy Roberts.

Around the world, research agencies are struggling to achieve gender parity.

A paper published in Nature Astronomy today reports how a national Australian astronomy centre achieved equal numbers of women and men using science.

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Gas-rich baby galaxies set the early universe alight

Images of a distant extreme emission line galaxy. Seen by James Webb Space Telescope (left) and Hubble Space Telescope (right). This comparison highlights the clarity of JWST images.

New images from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) have helped Australian astronomers unlock secrets of how infant galaxies started an explosion of star formation in the very early Universe.

Some early galaxies were abundant with a gas that glowed so bright it outshone emerging stars. In research published today, astronomers have now discovered just how prevalent these bright galaxies were some 12 billion years ago.

Images from the JWST have shown that almost 90% of the galaxies in the early universe had this glowing gas, producing so-called ‘extreme emission line features’.

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Heat spots reveal growth rate of a galaxy 12 billion years ago

Precise mapping of temperature variation gives clue to its evolution

A team of astronomers led by ASTRO 3D has drawn a temperature map of the dust drifting within one of the oldest spiral galaxies of the Universe which provides new insights into how fast the galaxy is growing. Until now researchers have only been able to measure the temperature of  most distant galaxies in broad terms, without showing how temperatures vary in individual areas.

This research, described in a paper published today in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS) shows unambiguous temperature variation within the distant galaxy indicating two distinct heat sources – a supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy, and the heat generated by newly-formed stars in the surrounding rotating disk.

An optical image, left, of the galaxy captured by the Hubble Space Telescope with overlaid temperature contours as detected by ALMA. The image on the right shows the dust temperature map detailed in the study.

Download figure of galaxy as pdf.

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Tracing 13 billion years of history by the light of ancient quasars

New evidence for rapid heating in the early universe

Astrophysicists in Australia have shed new light on the state of the universe 13 billion years ago by measuring the density of carbon in the gases surrounding ancient galaxies.

The study adds another piece to the puzzle of the history of the universe.

“We found that the fraction of carbon in warm gas increased rapidly about 13 billion years ago, which may be linked to large-scale heating of gas associated with the phenomenon known as the ‘Epoch of Reionisation’,” says Dr Rebecca Davies, ASTRO 3D Postdoctoral Research Associate at Swinburne University of Technology, Australia and lead author of the paper describing the discovery.

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Spin flips show how galaxies grow from the cosmic web

The alignment between galaxy spins and the large-scale structure of the universe reveals the processes by which different components of galaxies form.

Like our own Milky Way, most galaxies have two components: an extended disk in which new stars form from gas and a central bulge of mostly older stars that grows over time.

An observational study recently published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society found that the size of the galaxies’ bulge changes how their spins align with the surrounding structure.

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Dozens of newly discovered gravitational lenses could reveal ancient galaxies and the nature of dark matter

Thousands more potential lenses await assessment

Earlier this year a machine learning algorithm identified up to 5,000 potential gravitational lenses that could transform our ability to chart the evolution of galaxies since the Big Bang.

Now astronomer Kim-Vy Tran from ASTRO 3D and UNSW Sydney and colleagues have assessed 77 of the lenses using the Keck Observatory in Hawai’i and Very Large Telescope in Chile. She and her international team confirmed that 68 out of the 77 are strong gravitational lenses spanning vast cosmic distances.

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Wow, wow, wow. Galaxies collide and tumble in a cosmic dance: Webb reactions

Aussie astronomers react to NASA Webb first images.

Media contacts: Niall Byrne,, or
Jane Watkins,,

Nearly 40 researchers across Australia are eagerly awaiting data from Webb for their projects. Many of them are available to talk on Tuesday about what they hope to see with Webb and about their reaction to the first pictures

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