Monash University alumnus wins Astronomical Society of Australia Award

Dr Colm Talbot

Congratulations to Monash School of Physics and Astronomy alumnus Dr Colm Talbot on being one of six Australian astronomers to be recognised by the Astronomical Society of Australia (ASA), the country’s professional body for the field.

The awards will be presented at the ASA’s Annual Science Meeting, running Monday July 12 to Friday July 16 at hubs in major cities, and online. The conference is hosted by the School of Physics at The University of Melbourne.

Dr Talbot, now at Caltech, completed his PhD at Monash University. As part of his PhD thesis he created models to probe how binary black holes form, and developed a Bayesian code to better infer the properties of gravitational wave sources.

The code quickly became a standard tool used by LIGO-Virgo research teams to classify the origins of detected black hole mergers.

His work tests the prediction arising from Einstein’s general theory of relativity that a gravitational wave form will permanently deform the fabric of spacetime, leaving behind a ‘memory’. His research yielded tools that are now being deployed by various teams engaged in the hunt for the first confirmed memory detection.

Dr Talbot has previously been awarded Monash University’s Robert Street Doctoral Prize  and  2020 Vice-Chancellor's Commendation for Thesis Excellence.

Other astronomers to be recognised in the ASA awards include:

* Searching for meaning in a cold, dark universe: Professor Geraint Lewis from The University of Sydney.

* Using ancient stars as fossils: Madeleine McKenzie from the University of Western Australia.

* Tracing the origin of fast radio bursts: Dr Keith Bannister from CSIRO in Sydney.

* Finding the most extreme object in the Universe: Dr Joseph Callingham from Leiden University in The Netherlands (formerly of The University of Sydney).

* Illuminating dark matter and dark energy: Professor Tamara Davis from the University of Queensland.

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