Closing date: July 12, 2012
Note: job closes
The Museum is committed to equal employment opportunity, occupational health and safety and the Principles of Cultural Diversity.  All applicants are expected to demonstrate an understanding and commitment in these areas.  No smoking in the workplace is Museum policy.
Deliver visitor programs in astronomy, meteorology, Indigenous astronomy and Australian historical Archaeology for both booked education groups and the general audience. This is a casual position, with shifts at night, on weekends and during the week day on a flexible rostered basis. Applications MUST include cover letter, Resume and a document addressing the SELECTION CRITERIA.
Hourly rate of pay:  $39.52c/hour – Job Reference No:  OSO8009C/OSO8OO10C.
General: Minimum shift 2 hours
Availability of work on roster basis covering 7 nights per week and occasional day time work.
Information Package:      General inquiries (02) 9921 3481
Inquiries:                             Mr Geoff Wyatt (02) 9921 3481
                                           e-mail: geoff.wyatt@phm.gov.au
Applications to:  You must apply on-line at www.jobs.nsw.gov.au
Closing date:  12 July 2012

The Higgs Boson – what is it and why does it matter?

Particle physics is the study of the individual elements that comprise our universe. As most know, atoms are composed of smaller components; neutrons, electrons and protons. When electrons jump between atoms, new substances are formed, but the nucleus of an atom generally remains unchanged unless it undergoes a nuclear reaction. The  neutron/proton nucleus is also known as a hadron, which is made up of quarks. Quarks come paired in six different varieties; up and down, charm and strange, top and bottom. Quarks can also be classified as first, second, or third generation.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

According to the “Standard Model,” all matter consists of two different types of particles, quarks and leptons (i.e. electrons and neutrinos), held together by bosons. Bosons describe the force between particles.

There are three elementary bosons called gauge bosons; the photon (electromagnetic force), the W and Z boson (the weak force) and the gluons (the strong force). Then there are two additional suspected, yet unobserved, bosons, the Graviton and the Higgs.

The Higgs boson was originally suggested in the 1960′s by British physicist Peter Higgs. Higgs postulated that a particle gains mass by passing through the Higgs field, a combination of an electromagnetic field and a solid. Before the Higgs portion of the “Standard Model,” it was assumed that W and Z bosons interacted with other elementary particles, however, the mass of those bosons was always so large that it unbalanced and broke the “Standard Model”.

Thus, it was thought that there had to be at least one other particle added to the mass equation, the Higgs boson. Ever since the search as been on to find the elusive Higgs, leading to the construction of the LHC.

It requires a super-powerful particle smasher such as the Large Hadron Collider to produce energies high enough to knock a Higgs boson into existence under controlled conditions.But the heavy particles created in a collider exist for just an instant before they decay into lighter particles. The LHC’s physicists have been looking for particular patterns in the spray of particles that match what they’d expect to see from the decay of the Higgs boson. They’ve collected data for roughly a quadrillion proton-on-proton collisions, and on Wednesday they’ll announce the status of the Higgs search based on those conclusions.


HATSouth network discovers its first planet.

The Hungarian-made Automated Telescope South project (HATSouth) is a network of six robotic telescopes located at three separate sites in the Southern Hemisphere, the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, the High Energy Stereoscopic System site in Namibia and here at Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales. The network is designed to search for exoplanets in the southern sky. It is operated as a collaborative project between the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, Princeton University, the Australian National University, and the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile.

In a paper published on 8 June 2012, the HATSouth team announced the first planet discovered by the southern network.

The new planet is named HATS-1b, and the star it orbits HATS-1A – much more civilised than its previous name GSC 6652-00186. HATS-1A is a G-type Dwarf Star, very similar to our own Sun. It has a mass close to that of the Sun is only slightly warmer but is a little older at 6 billion years, compared to our Sun’s 4.5 billion years and is located about 988 light years from the Earth.

HATS-1b is a Hot Jupiter type planet, with 1.85 times Jupiter’s mass, orbiting HATS-1A at a distance of only 6.6 million kilometres about 4% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, every 3.45 days. It is thought to have an average equatorial temperature of 1359 K.

Large planets close to their stars are the easiest to detect; their gravity exerts more influence on the star than smaller, more distant planets, causing the stars to wobble more pronouncedly, and those that transit their stars (such as HATS-1b) do so more often and obscure more of the star’s light. It is unsurprising, therefore, that the first planet discovered by the HATSouth survey should be a Hot Jupiter type planet. The discovery does, however, prove that the system is working, so more discoveries from HATSouth are to be expected. The 3 telescopes each contribute to the light curves of the discoveries as being spaced at the different longitudes they provide the ability to undertake continuous observations.