Student Profile: Allison Hammond

What was my project about?

Allison Hammond

Allison Hammond

My thesis project explored large-scale magnetism in the Universe. I was exploring the question of whether and how the magnetic fields of galaxies have evolved over the lifetime of the Universe, which has important implications for galaxy formation and development. Galactic magnetism can be measured using a phenomenon known as Faraday Rotation. By taking Faraday Rotation data from a statistically large sample of galaxies at a broad range of redshifts (z=0 to z=~5, representing times ranging from the early Universe to the present), it was possible to investigate change over these Universal time-scales. As part of my project, I created new collation methods which resulted in a data sample an order of magnitude larger than had previously been achieved, allowing me to make meaningful comparisons to various theoretical models.

What I enjoyed about research.

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A comparison of our RRM vs z catalogue with previously published data sets. A catalogue of 268 objects discussed by Kronberg et al. (2008) was not available at the time

There were many things I really enjoyed about honours. It was exciting to be doing real and original research, as part of an active research group. I particularly enjoyed the independence honours gave me to approach problems and solve them myself, though with the support of excellent supervisors throughout. The community of honours students, both within SIfA and in the School of Physics as a whole, was very supportive, both of the coursework we did together and in our individual projects. One highlight of the year was attending the annual meeting of the Astronomical Society of Australia in Adelaide in July, where I gave a talk on the progress of my work. Another was spending some time assisting with observations at the ACTA in Narrabri the summer after completing my thesis. Overall, during Honours I felt more like a physicist than I had ever done previously, and ended the year feeling I had made a genuine contribution to the field I had worked in.

Publications and Media Articles

As a result of my work during the honours year, I was awarded the University Medal in Physics. I also received the Bok Prize from the Astronomical Society of Australia for the best honours/masters thesis in astrophysics in 2011. I gave talks at the annual meeting of the ASA in both 2011 and 2012.

My honours work also led to a paper, A New Catalog of Faraday Rotation Measures and Redshifts for Extragalactic Radio Sources being submitted to the Astrophysical Journal supplement. It also led to me being co-author on a paper by Neils Oppermann, An improved map of the Galactic Faraday sky, from Germany.