Professor Peter Tuthill
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Professor Peter Tuthill

+61 2 9351 3679
+61 2 9351 7726
A28 - Physics Building
The University of Sydney
Professor Peter Tuthill

Professor Peter Tuthill is an expert in astrophysical imaging; studying stars and their immediate environments with unprecedented resolution. After obtaining undergraduate degrees in physics at University of Queensland and the Australian National University, Peter moved to Cambridge University graduating with a PhD in 1995. For the next 5 years, he worked as a Research Astronomer at the University of California in Berkeley in a research group led by Nobel Laureate, Professor Charles Townes. Peter returned to Australia with the millenium, holding a number of Australian Research Council fellowships up to his present appointment as a Future Fellow. Peter works at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy - one of the largest astrophysics groups in the country - serving as director from 2010-2015.

The core research themes being explored in my group lie in astronomical imaging, interferometry, photonics and advanced astronomical instrumentation. These technologies are giving humanity its first ever window into the intimate lives of stars: how they are born and how they die. The physics associated with phenomena in the very immediate circumstellar environoment of stars, right down to the stellar surface itself, has been imaged in exquisite detail with our experiments, revealing dramatic plumes, wakes, shocks, flows and disks. These are of profound significance in understanding the life cycle of stars, for the winds and flows from the last generation of dying stars seeds the galaxy with heavy elements such as Carbon, Nitrogen and Oxygen: an enrichment process of critical importance to forming future stellar systems and perhaps most exciting of all, their families of circling planets. Such exoplanets are now known to be ubiquitious throughout the Galaxy, however capturing an image of the faint mote of light betraying a planet next to the overwhelming glare of its host star is the most audacious of the research themes being pursured within my group. Our masking interferometry technique, now implemented at almost all of the world's largest telescopes, has proved to be the most successful in its domain delviering a handful of spectacular detections of planets at the epoch of formation. Our group now has active projects at premier world observatories (Subaru, Keck, VLT, LBT) to further advance the sophistication of these interferometric technologies, so that we move from an era of exoplanetary detection
to one of exploration and characterisation, probing for chemistry and biosignatures in planetary atmospheres.

  • 2014 CISRA/CANON Extreme Imaging Award (runner up project)
  • 2013 CISRA/CANON Extreme Imaging Award (winning project)
  • 2011 ARC Future Fellowship (U.Syd)
  • 2009 Director, Sydney Institute for Astronomy (U.Syd continuing)
  • 2007 ARC QEII Fellowship (U.Syd)
  • 2005 Eureak Prize for Scientific Research (Australian Museum)
  • 2002 Australian Research Fellowship (U.Syd)
  • 1999 U2000 Fellowship (U.Syd)
  • 1995 Lindemann Trust Fellowship (U.California Berkeley)
  • 1994 Philosophical Society Fellowship (University of Cambridge)
  • 1991 Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Packer Scholarship (University of Cambridge)
  • 1991 ORS Award (University of Cambridge)


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Selected Grants


  • Exoplanetary Discovery with the James Webb Space Telescope, Tuthill P, Sivaramakrishnan A, Doyon R, Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP)


  • Imaging survey of habitable-zone exoplanets with GLINT, Tuthill P, Guyon O, Leon-Saval S, Norris B, Lawrence J, Withford M, Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP)

In the media

"Gemini Planet Imager - a new eye to scan the sky for exoplanets"

Article in "The Conversation"

Astronomers have just taken delivery of the shiniest new toy in the hunt for exoplanets: an extreme adaptive optics systems, now being commissioned at the Gemini South observatory .... More

"Postcards from the Solar System’s edge"

Press release about the 2014 CISRA/CANON Extreme Imaging Award.

PhD Student Paul Stewart together with his thesis advisor Prof Peter Tuthill won the runner-up prize for an innovative imaging experiment conducted from NASA's Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn ... More

Related research articles

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