Hello, I’m Brad Carter, astronomer in the faculty of sciences at the University of Southern Queensland. I think in my case, I was hooked on science by the fact that I realised what a wonderful universe we live in and as an astronomer, realised that there were endlessly fascinating things to look at in the night sky.
Then I realised that science is not only a tool for understanding things in the night sky, but for understanding the universe as a whole, our place here on earth, our lives, everything is affected by science. The research in astrophysics we are doing at USQ is about understanding our own solar system better by looking at stars and planets around and elsewhere in the galaxy. One of the other things we are doing here at USQ is building up better technology to see these stars and planets better.
So we have a robotic observatory where the telescopes can monitor the stars to look at planets and trends that are around the star. If we can look for trends at the planet we can see how it affects the stars brightness. Well I guess what it does is give us a better perspective of who we are and where we’ve come from. The research is helping us understand that our planet is one amongst probably billions of planets in orbit around the stars around the galaxy. It’s also helping us understand that our own solar system was once a very different place than it is today. So the young sun was very different and we can realise this since this research is telling us that the sun and planets that we see today have evolved considerably since they were formed some five billion years ago and our solar system has changed dramatically since its early history.
So I think what it will do for all of us is make us realise what a wonderfully pleasant place our planet is and how much we should care for it because it is literally the only world in the entire universe that is remotely habitable and certainly we have to look after it. In fact in terms of the number of extra solar planets we’ve found around other stars, which is a part of the survey, in other words the number of planets per star survey is in fact the highest in the world. So in that sense we are the most effective planet finding team in the world, finding lots of extra solar planets around other stars.