The Magnetic Universe
Professor Bryan Gaensler
University of Sydney
A remarkable discovery made by 20th century astronomers was that the Universe is threaded with well-organised, large-scale magnetic fields. This cosmic magnetism plays a vital role in controlling how stars and galaxies form and evolve. However, the evolution, structure and origin of magnetism on the largest scales are still fundamental unsolved problems. I will present innovative new observations of radio polarisation and Faraday rotation, and will explain how these data sets provide a unique view of magnetic fields in interstellar gas, in the Milky Way, and in nearby galaxies. These studies pave the way to opening the full window to the magnetic Universe with the Square Kilometre Array and other future radio telescopes.
Professor Gaensler is an Australian Laureate Fellow at The University of Sydney, and is Director of the newly-established ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO). He previously held positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Smithsonian Institution and Harvard University, before returning home to Australia in 2006. Gaensler was the 1999 Young Australian of the Year, gave the 2001 Australia Day address to the nation, and is the 2011 recipient of the Pawsey Medal from the Australian Academy of Science. He has published more than 180 papers in refereed journals; his current research program focuses on cosmic magnetism, neutron stars, and transient radio signals.