PhD Candidate Chris Trinh wins Chambliss Achievement Award

11 January 2013

School of Physics PhD student Chris Trinh was one of five graduate recipients of the Chambliss Achievement Award. at the recent American Astronomical Society meeting in January 2013.

The Astronomy Achievement Student Awards are given to recognise exemplary research by undergraduate and graduate students who present at one of the poster sessions at the meetings of the AAS and are honored with a Chambliss medal

Mr Chris Trinh, winner of the AAS Chambliss achievement award
Mr Chris Trinh, winner of the AAS Chambliss achievement award

Chris said, "I presented my poster at the AAS meeting this past week showing results from the commissioning of GNOSIS, a near-infrared sky suppression unit that utilises astrophotonic technologies such as fiber Bragg gratings and photonic lanterns, developed here at USyd in collaboration with the AAO." Using ground based telescopes present one major problem, the atmosphere. The atmosphere has turbulence, and it isn't completely dark. Molecules in the air emit light, especially in the near Infra-red wavelengths, called airglow, which is precisely where astronomers are now looking for supernovae and other large redshift cosmological events. Hydroxyl (OH) Molecules in the atmoshpere are the main contributors to airglow and can make the the sky 1000 times brighter in the infrared than in the optical wavelengths.

"There was a lot of interest in the technology because of its potential impact to all areas of astronomy. We're hoping to be the new adaptive optics. I spoke to John Mather, Nobel Laureate Saul Perlmutter, Phil Stahl (new president of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics) just to name a few. They are all very excited about our work," said Chris.

The technology was successful in improving the signal to noise ratio of emission lines from the OH molecules in the atmoshpere, effectively filtering out the noise from observations as well as identifying hidden data.

"The experiment was a great success in showing us that the technology works but to really hit it out of the park, we need an optimised solution, that is, a purpose built instrument, not a retro-fitted detector on an existing telescope. That's what we are working on now," said Chris

Contact: Tom Gordon

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