Too much heavy metal stops stars producing

Stars evolve according to the elements they manufacture

Stars are giant factories that produce most of the elements in the Universe – including the elements in us, and in the Earth’s metal deposits. But what stars produce changes over time.

Two new papers published in MNRAS shed light on how the youngest generation of stars will eventually stop contributing metals back to the universe.

The authors are all members of ASTRO 3D, the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions. They are based at Monash University, the Australian National University (ANU), and the Space Telescope Science Institute.

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Closing in on the first light in the Universe

Research using new antennas in the Australian hinterland has reduced background noise and brought us closer to finding a 13-billion-year-old signal

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The early Universe was dark, filled with a hot soup of opaque particles. These condensed to form neutral hydrogen which coalesced to form the first stars in what astronomers call the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR).

“Finding the weak signal of this first light will help us understand how the early stars and galaxies formed,” says Dr Christene Lynch from ASTRO 3D, the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions.

Dr Lynch is first author on a paper published in Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia. She and her colleagues from Curtin University and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research have reduced the background noise in their observations allowing them to home in on the elusive signal.

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Galaxies in the thick of it grow up fast

In a quest to learn more about our own galaxy, a Sydney astronomer has identified dozens of previously unknown galaxies in a distant cluster.

Using one of the world’s largest optical telescopes, Dr Amanda Bauer—an ARC Super Science Fellow at the Australian Astronomical Observatory—and her team around the world have been studying this cluster closely. They have found that the galaxies close together in the crowded centre of the cluster mature faster than those in isolation on the cluster’s outskirts.

“We are trying to find out why galaxies stop growing and mature, because this will tell us something about the ultimate fate of our own galaxy, the Milky Way,” Amanda says.

A galaxy grows when it is forming new stars. Amanda is trying to find out what stops galaxies from doing this, therefore reaching maturity. [continue reading…]

Million dollar lab to fight TB; Aussie role in global vaccines push; who’s top in science and more

See a $1.2 million high-containment laboratory opening tomorrow at 11 am in Sydney before they lock it up forever and start work with live TB.

The lab will speed up efforts to understand and fight back against tuberculosis (TB), a bacterium that lives inside two billion people worldwide and kills three people every minute. More below.

Also this week

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Risking cancer to avoid nano-sunscreen and heads-up on SKA and World TB Day

Welcome back – this is my first 2012 bulletin for journalists interested in science.

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Mentor of L’Oréal Fellow wins Nobel Prize

Tamara Davis, 2009 L’Oréal Australia Fellow tells of how she felt when she heard her mentors had won the Nobel Prize. Tuesday morning found me dancing in excitement when I heard the news that Brian Schmidt, Saul Perlmutter, and Adam Riess had won the Nobel Prize for their discovery of the acceleration of the expansion […]

How life survives in unlikely places, gender barriers and more – L’Oréal For Women In Science update

In this bulletin: Finding life in extreme physical environments: expatriate Australian Professor Jillian Banfield among the five Laureates announced for 2011 L’Oréal Australian Fellows win 2010 Eureka Prizes Recent US survey shows that gender is still a major barrier for women in science Applying for Australian Fellowships for 2011 The signature of life…international Laureates announced […]

The L’Oréal Foundation and the UNESCO recognise five exceptional women scientists with the 2011 For Women In Science awards

Australian professor Jillian Banfield honoured as the 2011 Laureate for North America

November 11, 2010: Professor Ahmed Zewail, President of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards Jury, today announced the five Laureates of the 2011 program.  Each year, five outstanding women scientists – one per region – are honoured for the contributions of their research, the strength of their commitments and their impact on society.  With the Marie Curie Nobel Centenary being celebrated in 2011, this year the For Women in Science program has a particularly strong resonance, placing women and chemistry at the heart of science today.

The awards ceremony will take place on March 3, 2011 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.  Each Laureate will receive US$100,000 in recognition of her contributions to science. [continue reading…]