Spiders in the outback and their view of plasma tubes in the sky

Recording of Cleo Loi's Talk on Wednesday 29th July 2015



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Talk abstract

Cleo Loi talking

In the lead-up to the era of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a pathfinder instrument called the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) was built to serve as a technological testbed for the radically new design concepts planned for the SKA. With its powerful snapshot capabilities and enormous field of view, the MWA has proven itself to be a highly versatile instrument, not just for studying the distant universe but also for the new window it has opened on the skies of planet Earth. In an extraordinary demonstration of this new breed of technology, the MWA has revealed a population of high-altitude tubular plasma density structures drifting above our heads, a result that was recently published in Geophysical Research Letters and publicised globally. Its remarkable capabilities as a regional-scale monitoring tool promise to provide new insights into space weather and ionospheric dynamics, at a level of detail and breadth not previously possible. This talk will introduce the next generation of radio telescopes, explain the discovery of the plasma tubes, and discuss the newfound potential of these instruments as quantitative probes of the geospace environment.

Cleo Loi biography

Cleo Loi is a member of the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics and a recent graduate of the University of Sydney, graduating with a B.Sc. (Adv) in March 2015. She completed her undergraduate Honours thesis "Waves in the sky: Probing the ionosphere with the Murchison Widefield Array" in 2014 under the School of Physics, supervised by Tara Murphy from the Sydney Institute for Astronomy.

Cleo Loi talking