Swinburne researchers find new supernova

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The image on the left was taken a few years ago and shows a couple of galaxies and nearby stars. The image on the right was taken at the Keck telescope in March of the same region of sky. It shows the same galaxies and stars, but also an additional bright compact object (in the upper right). This is the supernova - a star that exploded 100 million years ago but the light is only reaching us today. For a brief time the supernova is almost as bright as an entire galaxy of stars.

By Professor Duncan Forbes

It was a dark and stormy night in the city of Angels. Well, actually it wasn’t.

It was a clear night on the summit of Mauna Kea at Keck Observatory on 20 March. My colleagues and I were using the Echellette Spectrograph and Imager (ESI) instrument, which looks at faint objects in the visible wavelengths, to study star clusters and small galaxies.

I was actually in our special ‘remote ops’ room at Swinburne, with my postdoc, Joachim Janz. This is a room decked out with a computer, a backup computer, a video-link to Keck Observatory and a dedicated internet connection. As we are 21 hours ahead of Hawaii, it was a Friday afternoon Melbourne time, when we started observing, but Thursday night in Hawaii. My colleagues, Sam Penny and Mark Norris, were in the Keck control room, and Aaron Romanowsky was in his remote ops room at UC Santa Cruz.

Shortly into our night’s observing, we noticed a bright source in the guide camera image that wasn’t on our finding chart of that region. Still we managed to find our target and took a spectrum of it. We decided to go back and see if that `new’ bright source was still there. Sure enough it was and it hadn’t moved. It was probably a supernova (or an asteroid coming straight at us!), so I decided to get a 5min spectrum with ESI. And indeed we had found a supernova—a type Ia to be exact. Type Ia supernovae are fairly rare in the nearby Universe and represent the explosion of at least one white dwarf star in a binary system. It is this same type of supernova that led to the discovery of Dark Energy in the Universe using the Keck Observatory, and three Nobel prizes.

Our supernova is located in the outskirts of a galaxy some 100 million light years from us - so it exploded 100 million years ago but the light only reached us that night.

I later found out that an automated telescope on the Palomar Mountain overlooking Los Angeles detected the supernova shortly before us. They also managed to get a spectrum but that was taken after our Keck II/ESI spectrum. The exciting thing is that both the Palomar Observatory and ourselves managed to observe the supernova in the 1-2 weeks before it reaches its maximum brightness (and then fades steadily after that).

The supernova has been given the designation SN2014ai.

All in all, not bad for a late night at the office…

Caption for image: The image on the lefty was taken a few years ago and shows a couple of galaxies and nearby stars. The image on the right was taken at the Keck telescope in March of the same region of sky. It shows the same galaxies and stars, but also an additional bright compact object (in the upper right). This is the supernova - a star that exploded 100 million years ago but the light is only reaching us today. For a brief time the supernova is almost as bright as an entire galaxy of stars.

We’re loving all the entries in our 30 day Instagram comp. Here are some of our favourite pics so far. Only 19 days to go - keep snapping :) #swinning30

We’re loving all the entries in our 30 day Instagram comp. Here are some of our favourite pics so far. Only 19 days to go - keep snapping :) #swinning30

How can you improve the way you learn?

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MyLEAD: Leadership in Engagement, Academics and Development

How can you improve the way you learn? Receive a personalised learning profile and find out more about your personal approach to learning. The MyLEAD learning motivation survey is now open to all Swinburne students.

The MyLEAD survey takes about 25 minutes to complete and a learning profile will be available immediately after completion. The learning profile contains information about your sources of motivation, planning, self-awareness, social learning skills, and tendency to delay study tasks. Self-help strategies are also available to address these important learning attributes.

Students who complete the survey go in the draw to win 1 of 5 $200 iTunes vouchers or 1 of 50 movie passes. Prizes will also be drawn in the last week of semester one.

Complete the survey and receive your learning profile 

Congratulations to Agnes Carroll - the lucky winner of Swinburne’s Facebook competition!
Agnes plans to use her $2000 STA Travel voucher to visit her sister in Mexico. 
“I haven’t been to Mexico in eight years and I’ve been thinking that I probably couldn’t go this year,” Agnes said.
“But now I can! I’m so excited to win this voucher - it’s truly made my day.”
Agnes completed her Bachelor of Digital Media (Design) at Swinburne and is now undertaking a Masters of Information Technology. She expects to finish her postgraduate degree in 2015.
Swinburne’s social media team wishes Agnes all the best with her future study and travels.

Congratulations to Agnes Carroll - the lucky winner of Swinburne’s Facebook competition!

Agnes plans to use her $2000 STA Travel voucher to visit her sister in Mexico. 

“I haven’t been to Mexico in eight years and I’ve been thinking that I probably couldn’t go this year,” Agnes said.

“But now I can! I’m so excited to win this voucher - it’s truly made my day.”

Agnes completed her Bachelor of Digital Media (Design) at Swinburne and is now undertaking a Masters of Information Technology. She expects to finish her postgraduate degree in 2015.

Swinburne’s social media team wishes Agnes all the best with her future study and travels.

Swinburne College students given real workplace experience

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A unique program at Swinburne College is giving International Students an exclusive insight into Australian workplaces.

English Plus Volunteering, a Swinburne College Group Program which runs for six weeks, is an English language program held at Swinburne University of Technology’s Hawthorn campus. The program gives international students the chance to improve their English skills while undertaking a volunteer placement at an Australian business.

Tim Field, Swinburne College Business Development Manager, said that the students who undertook the one day a week placement- for five weeks and then a final week full time- did it in a range of industries.

“We always try to place the students in an industry that they are interested in working in upon completion of their studies,” Mr Field said.

“So far we have had students working in the not-for-profit sector, local schools, child care, tourism and hospitality industries.”

Ayaka Kondo, a Japanese student who came to Swinburne College to do the English Plus volunteer program, completed her placement at serviced apartment business Quest Hawthorn. During that time she was able to take on a range of different tasks, which included housekeeping and administrative duties.

Ayaka was able to practice her English, gain confidence and exposure to cross-cultural communication in a real-world setting, while also engaging in practical industry experience through her placement. 

“Working at Quest has helped me to practice my English conversational skills. All of the staff have been friendly and have helped me to improve my understanding of the English language,” Ms Kondo said.

English Plus Volunteering program is just one of the unique Group Programs offered through Swinburne College, which is a part of Swinburne University of Technology. English Plus Volunteering is available to International students only. You can find out more about enrolling in a course at Swinburne College here.

An unforgettable experience in Nepal

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Photo taken by Sarah Nammuni Dewage

By Matthew Rowland

In January 2014, I left Melbourne for a month along with 23 other students to take part in the Nepal Cultural Study Tour. Coming from a computer science course, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be properly equipped to deal with the subject matter, or that I wouldn’t get as much out of the experience as the other students, but I was still excited to explore somewhere so different and unique.

Once we arrived, I soon realised that I needn’t have worried. Paula and Mark’s pre-departure lectures had served to quickly bring me up to speed with the more sociologically-minded students, and I soon found practical applications for terms I’d never heard of before – such as cultural relativism, ethnocentrism, and cultural security.

Learning to apply these concepts in concert with my own disciplinary expertise is a skill that I feel will not only be valuable from an employment perspective, but have also served to make me more reflective and capable of deeper critical thinking in my daily life.

In a few short weeks I met a lama, visited a Tibetan refugee camp, trekked to 3200m above sea level, went paragliding, visited a self-sustaining Eco village and stayed in a rural Nepali village, plus countless other unforgettable experiences.

Nepal is a fantastic, vibrant country with an abundance of history and flavour, and I can’t think of a better way to have experienced it than with a group of my peers and two interested, engaged teachers.

If you’re interested in learning more about Nepal and the Cultural Study Tour, check out the upcoming info session:

Date: Thursday 10 April
Time: 3.30pm
Venue: AS404

For more info contact Dr Paula Geldens on 9214 4677, or email: pgeldens@swin.edu.au.

Horses head to Eastland

Swinburne’s University of Technology’s Diploma of Visual Merchandising and Visual Arts students have been hard at work painting and decorating life-sized horses, as part of an upcoming display at Eastland Shopping Centre in Melbourne’s outer east.

The horses, which are painted with bright colourful designs, will join a range of other hand-decorated animals at a display that will be installed at Eastland’s centre square craft village this Wednesday 2 April, to create an animal studio exhibition.

Visual Merchandising course co-ordinator, Justin Larsen, said that the project had involved a range of people working on the project.

“Throughout the past six weeks, we have had Swinburne students, staff and design alumni working together to collaborate with Eastland Shopping Centre, to help create an inviting craft space for children to use during the school holidays,” Mr Larsen said.

“We have done everything from designing and painting the horses, to transporting them from Wantirna to the centre.”

Swinburne was responsible for decorating two horses, as well as creating some of the background scenery for the display, giving the students a good insight into a range on visual merchandising and visual arts practices.

“Having out students work on these projects with industry partners enables us to educate them not just on the practical skills, but also on the workflow of a project to this scale.

“The students are given a broader perspective on what working in these areas involves. It is good for them to see how a project is completed from start, through to finish.”

Running until April 21, the collaborative display at Eastland has been created by a range of education providers and community groups.

Our 30 day Instagram challenge starts today! One lucky student will win an iPad mini. Tag your photos with #swinning30 every day for your chance to win. Get snapping :)

Our 30 day Instagram challenge starts today! One lucky student will win an iPad mini. Tag your photos with #swinning30 every day for your chance to win. Get snapping :)

Swinburne student behind Hope Ball

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My name is Jessica Hardy and I’m in my fourth year studying a Bachelor of Marketing/Bachelor of Communication Design at Swinburne.

Just over two years ago a friend of mine asked for my help to host a gala ball for a lesser-known charity. Two years and two trivia nights later, we’re just over a month away from our first charity ball.

Our aim is to raise awareness and money for Huntington’s Victoria, the only service in Victoria that supports those living with Huntington’s disease (HD). This genetic condition affects the brain, and progressively worsens over time, and is classified in the same name group as Parkinson’s disease and MS.

Most importantly there is no cure or effective treatment.

The money raised through the Hope Ball will go directly to Huntington’s Victoria and to supporting the people who need it most. A $50 donation can provide out of home respite care for an individual for one day, also providing a break for the main carer.

The night itself will be filled with a variety of dance performances, choreographed by studios around Melbourne. Michael Stangel, a contestant from The Voice will perform and our MC for the night is former AFL footballer Michael Roberts who is now a television sports journalist and reporter with the Nine Network and Triple M.

Huntington Victoria’s Hope Ball is on Saturday, 24 May 2014. 

Purchase tickets to the Hope Ball 

Like Hope Ball Melbourne on Facebook 

More info: hopeball2014@hotmail.com

This week in Swinning Style features journalism student Mykal Hoare.

Mykal is wearing:

  • Beanie from Roger David
  • Circle sunglasses from Prahran Vintage
  • Knitted jumper from Clothing and Footwear Merchant
  • Grey denim jeans
  • Black shoes from Shoebar

We thought the sunglasses truly made this outfit.

Share your awesome uni outfits at #swinningstyle on Instagram.

Happy St.Pattys Day 🍀💚 #stpatricksday

Happy St.Pattys Day 🍀💚 #stpatricksday

"More women are choosing challenging engineering careers today and together we are leading the way." Dr Tracy Dong Ruan, Swinburne academic. 
Read about Dr Ruan’s research in Venture magazine
#internationalwomensday

"More women are choosing challenging engineering careers today and together we are leading the way." Dr Tracy Dong Ruan, Swinburne academic.

Read about Dr Ruan’s research in Venture magazine

#internationalwomensday

Happy Friday! We took a selfie to celebrate :) #unilyf

Happy Friday! We took a selfie to celebrate :) #unilyf

By Swinburne’s Professor Duncan Forbes
Over the years I have given many talks on my research, including one delivered two kilometres underground (to a group of physicists searching for dark matter in a nickel mine in Canada), but never outdoors.So when Debbie Goodwin, Director of Development at the Keck Observatory, invited me to give a talk in the grounds of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel in Hawaii, I jumped at the chance.  
I gave my talk on 20 February as part of a series called ‘Evenings with Astronomers 2014’ for friends of the Keck Observatory, sponsored by the Rob and Terry Ryan Foundation. The audience consisted of invitation-only donors to the observatory. Among other significant supporters of Keck, the front row included Gordon Moore, the developer of Intel computer chips and author of Moore’s Law which predicts a doubling of computer power every 18 months. 
Donations represent a key element of funding for the observatory and I was very pleased to be the first Swinburne astronomer invited to be part of this talk series. The series includes three other astronomers from Caltech, University of California and Yale. 
My talk entitled Hunting for Astronomical Fossils with Keck focused on discoveries of ancient star clusters with the Keck telescope and how this work was forcing astronomers to rethink our ideas about the nature of star clusters and the definition of galaxies. 
Everything went very well in the floodlit garden; I was given a lei (a suitably manly one made of leaves), there were starry table decorations, flaming tiki torches, and all this was accompanied by the gentle sound of the ocean in the background. The audience asked lots of questions and there was a reception afterwards with wine and chocolates. After the talk, I found out that one member of the audience was a graduate of our Swinburne Astronomy Online program. Overall it was a great evening for this astronomer.
Read more about Professor Duncan Forbes 

By Swinburne’s Professor Duncan Forbes

Over the years I have given many talks on my research, including one delivered two kilometres underground (to a group of physicists searching for dark matter in a nickel mine in Canada), but never outdoors.So when Debbie Goodwin, Director of Development at the Keck Observatory, invited me to give a talk in the grounds of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel in Hawaii, I jumped at the chance. 

I gave my talk on 20 February as part of a series called ‘Evenings with Astronomers 2014’ for friends of the Keck Observatory, sponsored by the Rob and Terry Ryan Foundation. The audience consisted of invitation-only donors to the observatory. Among other significant supporters of Keck, the front row included Gordon Moore, the developer of Intel computer chips and author of Moore’s Law which predicts a doubling of computer power every 18 months. 

Donations represent a key element of funding for the observatory and I was very pleased to be the first Swinburne astronomer invited to be part of this talk series. The series includes three other astronomers from Caltech, University of California and Yale. 

My talk entitled Hunting for Astronomical Fossils with Keck focused on discoveries of ancient star clusters with the Keck telescope and how this work was forcing astronomers to rethink our ideas about the nature of star clusters and the definition of galaxies. 

Everything went very well in the floodlit garden; I was given a lei (a suitably manly one made of leaves), there were starry table decorations, flaming tiki torches, and all this was accompanied by the gentle sound of the ocean in the background. The audience asked lots of questions and there was a reception afterwards with wine and chocolates. After the talk, I found out that one member of the audience was a graduate of our Swinburne Astronomy Online program. Overall it was a great evening for this astronomer.

Read more about Professor Duncan Forbes 

Study spaces at Swinburne

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The Library is very busy this semester and until the Advanced Manufacturing and Design Centre (AMDC) is completed there will be increased pressure on study space availability in the Library and on campus.

We sincerely apologise for this inconvenience. When the AMDC opens, we will open up additional study spaces in the BA building in rooms currently being used for classrooms. In the meantime, here are some tips for this semester.

Seven tips to find a study space

  1. Bookable computers and rooms 
  2. A new study spaces app will be available soon from this website
  3. Wifi coverage is good on campus and extends to some of the local cafes
  4. You can use vacant classrooms 
  5. The Atrium has power and wifi access too
  6. We are open late – you can get 24-hour access
  7. Croydon or Wantirna campuses are alternative places to study if you live close by 

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