Check our Dr. Rebeccas Allen's and My favourite space highlights of 2020. Article for Swinburne News, see HERE.
Learn more about the Hayabusa2 collection mission and what astronomers hope to find! ABC Radio News piece HERE.
In the 21st Century the race to space isn't just for astronauts, normal women and men will be able to soon buy a ticket aboard a commercial flight to the heavens! I had a blast chatting about this and other exciting space news on the ABC! To learn more about the Virgin Galactic HERE.
Today several new papers released outline some incredible findings of NASAs Hope probe's visit to Ceres. It is looking increasing likely that there may exist an under surface ocean on Ceres, possibly the cause the of salty slush detected within the pit of a giant crater. See my excitement as I discuss the importance of this science on Channel 7 HERE.
I am SO EXCITED about the Mars2020 rover, Percy and his future mission hunting for signs on life on Mars! Watch the interview HERE.
The United Arab Emirates has just successfully launched a spacecraft that, seven months from now, should land on Mars. Listen to learn more HERE with David Sparkes on The World Today.
Tonight Australians are set to get a perfect view of two of the biggest planets in the solar system as Jupiter and Saturn orbit the closest to Earth in 20 years.
Watch the Interview to learn more HERE.
Listen to my interview with Robert Mailer, a discussion about the sun aimed at school students HERE.
Curious Kids: what does the Sun's core look like?Sara Webb, Swinburne University of Technology
What does the Sun’s core look like? This is a fantastic question Sophie, and one we will need to go on an adventure to answer!
We are about to take a journey to the centre of the Sun. The action begins about 148 million kilometres from our planet when we arrive at the Sun’s surface in our space ship.
It’s hot here at the surface, about 5,700 degrees Celsius, and the light is brilliant and blinding. As we look closer, the surface appears to bubble, just like boiling water. Some of the bubbles look darker than the others. The darker bubbles are slightly cooler than the rest, but every inch of the surface is still blisteringly hot.
Read more: Curious Kids: how are stars made?
From zone to zone
We continue on our journey, diving through one of these giant bubbles on the surface, and head towards our first stop: the convective zone.
Surrounding us is a hot fluid called plasma, filled with bubbles by the constant movement of hot gases rising and cool gases falling. The bubbles are moving, growing and shrinking. Some are even popping as our space ship travels down further, rocking from side to side like a boat in a high sea.
After travelling down for 200,000 kilometres (that’s about 15 times the width of the whole Earth!) the rocking finally stops. We’ve made it to our second stop, the radiative zone.
This part of the Sun is very hot. It is now 2 million degrees outside our space ship. If we could see individual light particles, called photons, we’d see them bouncing between the tiny particles, called atoms, that make up the plasma.
These bounces forwards and backwards and from side to side make up a dance scientists call a “random walk”. It can take one photon hundreds of thousands of years to randomly walk its way out of this layer.
Our spaceship is going full speed ahead, so we move through it much more quickly.
The weight of all the plasma above us pressing down means the plasma around us is denser than gold, and the temperatures are soaring up towards 15 million degrees! We have almost reached the final stop on our tour, the Sun’s core.
Read more: Curious Kids: Why do stars twinkle?
Welcome to the core
Before we enter the core, we’re going to have to shrink down to the size of an atom. It is the only way we will get to see what is happening in here, because what we are trying to see in here is atoms, millions of times smaller than a grain of sand!
The core of the Sun is home to billions and billions of atoms of hydrogen, the lightest element in the universe. The immense pressure and heat pushes these atoms so close to one another that they squish together to create new, heavier atoms.
This is called nuclear fusion. The hydrogen atoms that get squished together form an entirely different substance called helium.
So now that we are in the core of the Sun, what does it actually look like? Not only is everything blindingly bright, but it just might have a pretty pink colour!
We can’t be entirely sure what the core would look like to human eyes, but we have seen in labs here on Earth that hydrogen plasma has a pink glow. So we can make an educated guess that hydrogen plasma in the core of the Sun would look about the same.
When atoms merge together, they release large amounts of energy in the form of light. The light works its way up through the core, into the radiative zone where it bounces around, until it finally makes it into the convective zone. Then the light travels up to the surface of the Sun through massive bubbles of plasma, and from the surface it is free to travel uninterrupted through the sky.
It’s time to leave the hottest place in our solar system and head back to Earth. Our journey has taken us 700,000 kilometres deep into the interior of the Sun, past the bubbles of the convective zone, through the billions of the light rays in the radiative zone and into the mysterious atom-fusing core.
As we land back on Earth and look towards the Sun in the sky, it’s almost like looking back in time. We know now the light we are seeing was created hundreds of thousands of years ago, in the hottest place in the Solar system!
I had so much being part of the Fame Lab competition! It was such a creative way to share some of my research, all within 3 minutes!
My favourite meteor shower visible from down under! The amazing meteors that will be lighting up the sky this week are, incredibly, remnants of Halleys comet! Learn more and see the full Channel 7 report HERE.
Katherine Johnson was an incredible women, mathematician, researcher and will forever be a role model for women and people of color in STEM. Learn more about her life, her influence and legacy HERE.
When we look to the stars, what we see is a fraction of the universe – only around 5%. Astronomers observe that a mysterious ‘dark universe’ of strange and enigmatic dark energy and dark matter makes up the remaining 95%. Swinburne PhD candidates Sara Webb and Grace Lawrence are working to unravel the mysteries of this dark universe, exploring the fundamental origins and nature of dark energy and dark matter. Watch HERE.
Approximately 3.5 million years ago, the centre of our Milky Way was the scene of a huge explosion which lasted for a relatively brief 300,000 years! Read more about this amazing research lead by Joses Bland-Hawthorn HERE.
Elon Musk has unveiled a SpaceX rocket designed to carry a crew to the Moon, Mars or anywhere else in the solar system in a goal to make "space travel like air travel".
"This space rocket is nothing like we've seen before in the Apollo missions. Instead of holding three men, it's going to hold about 37 to 40 different people which is just incredible - and what's even cooler is it's going to be able to land. So, we're not going to have any waste in the actual fuselage, we're going to be able to reuse it again and again." - Sara Webb
Check out more HERE.
So proud to have our Deeper, Wider, Faster program highlighted by The Sydney Morning Herald. We work to try coordinate multi-telescopes to chase the fastest explosions in the Universe, within minutes of their detection!
Read the full article by Liam Mannix HERE.
It was a pleasure joining Channel 7 to chat about the exciting breaking news that the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) was about to end embargo on their research of imaging Blackholes, and give us the first black hole photo ever!
You might remember from your Science 101 class, that blackholes are indeed very black, with nothing escaping the gasps of their event horizon, not even light. So you can image that makes taking an photo of a blackhole a tad bit tricky. However this was solved by some clear thinking from the EHT team. Instead of trying to photo the blackhole itself, researchers aimed to detect the light from the surrounding hot gas, being pulling around and slowly in towards the blackhole.
Read more about this amazing work HERE.
I met Rebeccea on my first ever day at Swinburne, not as a PhD student but rather as a young undergraduate visiting summer student many years ago. I was from Queensland and was so overwhelmed moving, living and working in a brand new city, where I knew no-one. Thankfully my summer desk was right across from Rebecca, and her bright smile and warm nature made me feel right at home during my 3 month project! She has been a mentor to me ever since, guiding me through the wild ride that is PhD and inspiring me to be a strong bad-ass women in science. Thank you for being an inspiration to so many Rebecca!
Read more about the amazing Dr. Allen HERE.