University Research Groups

Australian universities and research centres attract bright, talented scientists from all over Australia and abroad. This is a list of Australian and New Zealand university departments participating in active astronomical research.

Australian Defence Force Academy

Australian National University

  • Department of Physics – gravity wave telescopes, AGN and the early universe.
  • Mathematical Sciences Institute – Theoretical Astrophysics – part of the mathematics department; accretion disks, compact stars, evolved binaries, magnetic cataclysmic variables, stellar atmospheres, radiation transfer.
  • Mount Stromlo Observatory – located just outside of Canberra and run by the ANU’s RSAA.
  • Planetary Science Institute (PSI) – joint cross-disciplinary venture between ANU’s RSAA and the Research School of Earth Science established to increase our understanding of the life cycle and diversity of planets.
  • Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics (RSAA) – instrumentation (NIFS and GSAOI), planetary astronomy, the interstellar medium, stellar astrophysics, galactic structure, galaxies & galaxy evolution, active galactic nuclei, cosmology.
  • Siding Spring Observatory – located in the Warrumbungle Mountains in central west NSW and run by the ANU’s RSAA. The Siding Spring Observatory operates the 2.3m Advanced Technology Telescope, as well as a 1m and 0.6m telescope.

Curtin University

  • Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy (CIRA) is the Curtin University node of The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) – an equal joint venture with The University of Western Australia. ICRAR is working towards the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), an international radio telescope of unprecedented sensitivity that may be built in Australia. ICRAR is involved in the SKA and related projects such as ASKAP and the MWA and has four key areas of research focus: radio astronomy engineering; high performance computing; astronomy; and electromagnetic compatibility. ICRAR’s Curtin node focuses its research on engineering, Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), studies of active galactic nuclei and radio galaxies, transient radio phenomena, and pulsars.

Macquarie University

Monash University

  • Monash Centre for Astrophysics (MoCA) – astrophysical fluid dynamics, binaries & globular clusters, star and planet formation, stellar structure & evolution, solar physics, computational astrophysics.

Swinburne University of Technology

  • Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing – cosmology, galaxy formation & evolution, galaxy groups, extragalactic globular clusters, pulsars, star & planet formation, accretion disks, evolved binaries, jets and winds from disks, astrophysical magnetic fields, computational astrophysics.

University of Adelaide

University of Melbourne

  • Astrophysics Group – active galactic nuclei & quasars, dust, galaxies, groups and clusters, gravitational lensing, n-body simulations, radio astronomy, solar system, isolated neutron stars, accreting neutron stars.

University of New South Wales

University of Queensland

  • Astrophysics Department – Galaxy formation and evolution, ultra-compact dwarf galaxies, star formation in galaxies, galaxy environment and ecology, red quasars, theoretical astrophysics, observational cosmology, large-scale structure, clusters of galaxies, redshift surveys, the fundamental plane of elliptical galaxies, image processing techniques and analysis.

University of Southern Queensland

  • The USQ Astrophysics Group’s research includes stellar surface imaging, Zeeman Doppler Imaging of stellar magnetic fields, starspot photometry, the detection of extrasolar planets, robotic and remote-control astronomy.

University of Sydney

  • Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA) at the University of Sydney pursues Astrophysical research across a range of theoretical, observational and instrumental programs. Observational data are obtained from various facilities in Australia, overseas and in orbit. The School operates its own radio telescope in collaboration with Swinburne University, the Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope (UTMOST) and has a strong involvement in SKA developments (e.g. SKAMP), while the Sydney University Stellar Interferometer (SUSI) is the major element in a broad program of high-resolution optical imaging. Observing opportunities are also frequently awarded at the national facilities in Australia – the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT – optical) and the Australia Telescope (AT – radio). Research is conducted in many exciting and interesting areas including stellar astrophysics, plasma astrophysics, cataclysmic variables, black-hole binaries, masers, pulsars, supernovae and their remnants, the interstellar medium and the Galactic centre. Beyond our Galaxy, studies include normal galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds, clusters of galaxies, active galaxies and quasars, gravitational lensing and cosmology.

University of Tasmania

  • Optical and X-Ray Group – optical and X-ray observations of accreting binaries, high-speed photometry of supernova 1987A, photometry of gravitational microlensing events.
  • Radio Astronomy Group – pulsars, methanol masers, VLBI and space – VLBI, Mount Pleasant Radio Observatory & Ceduna Radio Observatory.

University of Western Australia

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics – conducting world-class research using leading radio astronomical instrumentation and supercomputing facilities. The research program focuses on the development and capabilities of the next generation of radio telescopes such as ASKAP, MWA and the SKA. The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a radio telescope of unprecedented sensitivity, capable of seeing the early stages of the formation of galaxies, stars and planets, and undertaking powerful tests of General Relativity.
  • Gravitational Wave Technology & Education – gravitational wave astrophysics, resonant-mass gravitational wave detector (Niobe), optics, interferometers & suspension, the Australian International Gravitational Observatory (AIGO).
  • International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) – The UWA astronomy and astrophysics group is the University of Western Australia node of ICRAR – an equal joint venture with Curtin University. ICRAR is working towards the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) through four key areas of research focus: radio astronomy engineering; high performance computing; astronomy; and electromagnetic compatibility.

University of Wollongong

University of Canterbury

  • Astronomy – instrumentation (HERCULES), microlensing observations.

Victoria University of Wellington

  • Astronomy – optical astronomy – microlensing observations, Whole Earth Telescope (WET). Radio Astronomy – galaxy clusters, magnetic fields and next generation radio surveys.

The ATNF maintains a list of Australian astronomy research groups on its servers.

A more complete list of Australian Physics and Maths Departments can be found on our Higher Education pages.