Prof. Bryan GAENSLER

Honorary Professor

Research Group: SIfA / CAASTRO
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Bryan Gaensler is an Australian Laureate Fellow and Professor of Physics at the University of Sydney, having previously held positions at MIT, the Smithsonian Institution and Harvard University. His research focuses on the origin of magnetism in interstellar space, the demographics of neutron stars and black holes in our Milky Way, and the identification of transient sources of radio emission. Professor Gaensler gave the 2001 Australia Day Address to the nation, was a 2005 Alfred P Sloan Research Fellow, is a winner of the Pierce Prize (2006) and the Pawsey Medal (2011), and was named by The Sydney Magazine as one of Sydney?s top 100 most influential people for 2010. Professor Gaensler has authored over 190 scientific papers (including first author papers in both Natureand Science) with over 5800 citations and an H-index of 44. Gaensler is also a passionate communicator and educator: he has published dozens of articles in newspapers and magazines of science and innovation, and is author of the popular astronomy book Extreme Cosmos (NewSouth Books, 2011)

In 2011 Professor Gaensler commenced as Director of the ARC Centre for All-sky Astrophysics, or CAASTRO. As director of CAASTRO, Gaensler is working to establish Australia as the world-leader in wide-field radio and optical astronomy. CAASTRO aims to answer major unsolved problems in astronomy, to develop innovative ways of processing enormous data-sets, and to enable a diverse set of opportunities for students and early career researchers. By bringing Australia's top astronomers together into a focused collaboration, CAASTRO is cementing Australia's reputation as an international leader in astrophysical research, is building unique expertise in wide-field radio and optical astronomy, and is positioning Australia to lead the science programmes planned for the billion-dollar Square Kilometre Array project.

As a Laureate Fellow, Gaensler is aiming to use the unique capabilities of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) to conduct the Polarisation Sky Survey of the Universe?s Magnetism (POSSUM). POSSUM is based around an effect called "Faraday rotation", in which light from a background object is subtly changed when it passes through a cloud of magnetised gas. By measuring the Faraday rotation in the emission from millions of distant galaxies over 70% of the sky, POSSUM aims to transform our understanding of magnetic fields in galaxies, clusters and in diffuse intergalactic gas, and to thus address key unanswered questions on Milky Way ecology, galaxy evolution and cosmology. The data from POSSUM will provide a substantial legacy to the astronomical community, while the new instrumentation required for this project will test the technology needed for the SKA.