Indiana Bate – Thanks and Farewell Dr Nick

We’re used to thinking of archaeologists as Fedora-wearing, curse-breaking dusty types, fossicking about in the sands, interpreting cultures from a single bone.  Our Galactic Archaeologist and Real Scientist this week, Nick Bate, sifts through data the way terrestrial archaeologists sift through dirt.

Image

Image

Nick talked about his work on a different kind of PAndAS, the Pan-Andromeda Archaeological Survey, and how to piece together the life and death of stars and galaxies from  it’s a huge optical survey of the Andromeda galaxy and its surrounds.

ImagePulsar data, PAandAS data,  some fairly awesome telescopic shots from Nick’s recent visit to the Victor M Bianco Telescope in Chile,  and how to perceive the life and death of stars and galaxies, billions of years after they change neighbourhoods and move. It’s truly amazing stuff, so much so that the estimable Carol Duncan, ABC Broadcaster, had him on her afternoon show on Radio Newcastle for an interview. So thank you, Dr Nick (we just love saying that) for a riveting week on Real Scientists.  Be sure to check out Nick’s Storifys, Part 1 and Part 2,in case you missed any of the tweets. Be s.ure to follow Nick’s adventures on his regular account, @ickbat

Galactic archaeologist: Dr Nick Bate joins RealScientists

Our curator for the coming week on RealScientists is @ickbat, better known within the Physics department at the University of Sydney as Dr Nicholas Bate. Nick is a postdoctoral fellow in the Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA), which conducts research in areas including stellar astrophysics, plasma astrophysics, cataclysmic variables, black-hole binaries, masers, pulsars, supernovae and their remnants, the interstellar medium and the Galactic Centre, normal galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds, clusters of galaxies, active galaxies & quasars, gravitational lensing and cosmology. Nick’s views on where he is and how he came to be there:
I was probably always going to end up working in astronomy — books on space as a kid, trips to the museum to see asteroids, visits to Parkes and Siding Spring Observatories on family holidays, undergraduate physics, PhD in astrophysics (both at Melbourne Uni), and now here. I’ve meandered a bit, though. I also studied history at Uni (took a year off to decide if I was going to be an historian or an astrophysicist), I worked as a consultant for the Environment Protection Authority for a little while, and I had a 6-month period between astrophysics jobs working in geothermal energy research.
These days, I study diffuse stellar substructures in the halo of Andromeda, the nearest large spiral galaxy to our Milky Way. These objects are the remnants of dwarf galaxies that have fallen in to Andromeda and been torn apart, and they offer important insight into how galaxies grow over cosmic time. Andromeda is perfect for this work: it is far enough away that we can study it without having to take images of the entire sky, but close enough that we can hope to see very faint objects.
(Incidentally, my official job title is ‘Pandas Postdoctoral Researcher’. PAndAS as in Pan-Andromeda Archaeological Survey. No actual pandas, just lots of opportunity for cute paper titles: “PAndAS Cubs”, “PAndAS in the mist”…)

A panda, yesterday

A panda, yesterday

This was a change of field for me. Prior to this job, my research was in quasar microlensing. There, we used statistical simulations of light bending around massive objects (‘Einstein’s telescope’) to study what’s going on around distant supermassive black holes, on scales much smaller than we can reach with even our best telescopes. I try to keep my toe in that field, but there’s never enough time!
When I’m not sciencing, there’s about a million other things I like to do. I’ll read just about anything that passes in front of me (although my first love is sci-fi), I love the opera, films both arty and actioney (I’ve got a particular soft-spot for the flagrant disregard of the laws of physics), drawing stick figures, basically anything that involves nerding it up.
Nick wearing a hat, like all good archaeologists (well, Indiana Jones at least)

Nick wearing a hat, like all good archaeologists (well, Indiana Jones at least)

Please welcome @ickbat to RealScientists and be sure to enjoy his tweets!