Brian P. Schmidt

Australian National University


Election Year: 2008
Primary Section: 12, Astronomy
Secondary Section: 13, Physics
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

As a graduate student at Harvard University, I developed the Expanding Photosphere Method to measure the distances to a class of exploding stars called Type II Supernovae. This method was used to measure distances on an absolute physical scale, and to measure a value of the Hubble constant of 73 +/-9 km/s/Mpc. In 1994 I co-founded and led the High-Z SN Search Team, an international collaboration of more than 20 astronomers on five continents, with the purpose to study the evolution of the Universe with Type Ia supernovae. In 1998 our team, simultaneously with a competing team, provided strong evidence that the Universe is accelerating in its expansion. This acceleration can be best explained by some sort of Dark Energy which pervades and dominates the other forms of matter in the Universe. Since 1998 I have been chasing Gamma Ray Bursts, helping determine the angle associated with GRB jets, helping develop the connection between GRBs and type Ic supernovae, and identifying the likely progenitors of at least some Short Hard Bursts. Starting in 2003, I have been working on a program to undertake a comprehensive survey of the Southern Skies, using the widefield SkyMapper telescope. This new generation telescope will commence regular operations in the second quarter of 2009, and will be a unique facility in the southern hemisphere for mapping the night time sky with unprecedented accuracy. This facility will enable cutting edge research across the breadth of astronomy and astrophysics, allowing my colleagues and me, to undertake research on topic ranging from the outer solar system to the distant Universe.

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