From UWA: “UWA Zadko Telescope helps reconstruct ‘Barbarian’ asteroids”


University of Western Australia

24 November 2016
Media references

Associate Professor David Coward (UWA School of Physics) (+61 4) 23 981 240

Jess Reid (UWA Media and PR Advisor) (+61 8) 6488 6876

The University of Western Australia’s Zadko Telescope has been used by an international team to reconstruct the shape of a rare ‘Barbarian’ asteroid (space rock).

UWA Gingin Observatoy Zadko 1 meter telescope

Named after the first asteroid of this type discovered, Barbara (234), Barbarians are a key to understanding how the solar system first formed. Barbarians are extremely rare and ancient, and were present before the Earth was created. Only 13 Barbarians have ever been discovered.

UWA School of Physics Zadko Director Associate Professor David Coward said in the creation of the solar system the space rocks were the foundation for planet formation, such as the Earth, and ultimately the start of life.

“Like a time machine, being able to re-construct their shape and properties helps us go back in time to better understand our beginnings,” he said.

The shape of asteroids is important because it is like a fossil record of the environment when they first formed. This environment was extremely violent, with collisions between space rocks common place. Earth’s Moon, covered in impact craters, is evidence of this violent past.

Associate Professor Coward said Barbarians were usually too far away to be observed by telescopes.

“To get around this, 16 telescopes involved in the study were used to detect tiny changes in light intensity to reconstruct the shape of the Barbarian from the light pattern using powerful computers,” he said.

“The Zadko telescope was critical in determining the shape of the asteroid because it provided critical data only available from Western Australia.”

The Zadko telescope located near Gingin in Western Australia is part of a global network of telescopes linked to a NASA satellite ground station. Its unique geographical location allows it to explore a huge section of uncharted and previously unmonitored parts of space.

The global research led by scientists from France and Belgium, includes sixteen research institutes across the globe.

The Zadko Telescope, operated by the UWA School of Physics, was made possible by a philanthropic donation to UWA by James Zadko.

See the full article here .

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The University of Western Australia (UWA) is a research-intensive university in Perth, Australia that was established by an act of the Western Australian Parliament in February 1911, and began teaching students for the first time in 1913. It is the oldest university in the state of Western Australia. It is colloquially known as a “sandstone university”. It is also a member of the Group of Eight.

UWA was established under and is governed by the University of Western Australia Act 1911.[2] The Act provides for control and management by the university’s Senate, and gives it the authority, amongst other things, to make statutes, regulations and by-laws, details of which are contained in the university Calendar.[3]

UWA is highly ranked internationally in various publications: the 2015 QS World University Rankings[4] placed UWA at 98th internationally, and in August 2016 the Academic Ranking of World Universities from Shanghai Jiao Tong University placed the university at 96th in the world.[5] To date, the university has produced 100 Rhodes Scholars;[6] one Nobel Prize laureate[7] and one Australian Prime Minister.[8]

In 2010 UWA joined the Matariki Network of Universities as the youngest member, the only one established during the 20th century.