Alan Duffy

Alan Duffy

Alan Duffy is an astrophysicist at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, and Lead Scientist of The Royal Institution of Australia. Twitter | @astroduff

 Alan Duffy is an astrophysicist at Swinburne University of Technology. He uses powerful supercomputers to uncover the nature of dark matter and the key physical laws that govern the formation of galaxies. He also studies the early Universe during the Epoch of Reionisation – a time when the First Galaxies lit up the Universe.

He collaborates with scientists at the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, the Leiden Observatory in The Netherlands and Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, in the UK where he received his PhD in astrophysics in 2009.

Alan has published peer-reviewed articles in top international journals on topics as diverse as cosmology (covering Dark Matter and Dark Energy), simulating galaxy formation, upcoming telescopes (such as SKA and FAST). He also speaks at universities and conferences around the world.

In addition he is a passionate science communicator, presenting in a national tour for BBC Worldwide’s The Science of Doctor Who, explaining astronomy as a regular on ABC’s Breakfast News as well as visiting regional and remote communities discussing and promoting astrophysics in schools. 

Alan is also Lead Scientist of The Royal Institution of Australia. 

  • Silicon surges as quantum tech favourite

    It might just prove central to next-gen machines, too.

    Three breakthrough papers published in just the past year have confirmed that silicon is neck-and-neck with competing...

    May 21, 2019
  • Wrinkles in the fabric of spacetime

    Gravitational waves leave lasting marks on the particles.

    Colliding blackholes produce intense gravitational waves that permanently alter the properties of particles in their ...

    May 7, 2019
  • Breakthrough in gravitational wave hunt

    Hearing quantum noise at room temperature.

    A new physical device makes it possible to observe – and hear – quantum effects at room temperature, a breakthrough t...

    April 2, 2019
  • Quantum tunnelling is instantaneous

    Physicists establish that electrons waste no time bashing through a barrier.

    Researchers have found that electrons passing through solid matter in a quantum process known as “tunnelling” do so i...

    March 18, 2019
  • Coding drops quantum computing error rate by order of magnitude

    Australian breakthrough brings workable quantum computers a big step closer. Alan Duffy reports.

    Errors in quantum computing have limited the potential of the emerging technology. Now, however, researchers at Austr...

    February 28, 2019
  • Dark matter detection may involve a pinch of salt

    Physicists suggest a radically different approach to confirming the most elusive substance in the...

    Tiny pieces of billion-year-old salt could reveal the existence of dark matter, researchers claim.Dark matter is thou...

    February 27, 2019
  • Searching for missing particles

    The Standard Model of particle physics has been confirmed many times, but it is far from complete...

    We have long sought to understand our world. That quest now involves projects larger than any one country. It may soo...

    February 13, 2019
  • Giving Saturn the time of day

    A day on Saturn is surprisingly hard to measure.

    There’s a certain irony that Saturn, the planet named after the ancient Roman god of time, has a day that is difficul...

    January 24, 2019
  • Australian link to Voyager 2 success

    As the probe reaches interstellar space, Aussie ears are listening. Alan Duffy reports.

    Australia’s giant 64-metre Parkes telescope was able to pick up the faint signals from Voyager 2 as it left the helio...

    December 10, 2018
  • Gravitational waves: biggest black hole merger ever

    LIGO data adds four more grav-wave events to the record.

    Billions of light years away, two black holes have collided to create a larger one – the biggest black hole merger ye...

    December 3, 2018
  • Researchers brace for dark matter ‘hurricane’

    The effects of a long-distant galactic collision may soon aid in the search for a mysterious part...

    The solar system – and Earth's various dark matter detectors – will experience the additional dark matter as moving a...

    November 12, 2018
  • ‘Upside down’ cosmic rays may be new particle

    Strange detections in Antarctica hint at something missing in the standard model of particle phys...

    A handful of particles erupting from the ice of Antarctica may well be the first indication of a new particle of natu...

    October 24, 2018
  • Space junk hunter-killer satellites are on the way

    Australian researchers take aim at hundreds of thousands of bits of debris orbiting the Earth. Al...

    Millions of pieces of space junk, many only the size of a fleck of paint, orbit the Earth.NASAAustralian researchers ...

    October 4, 2018
  • Faster-than-light detection following cosmic collision not what it appears

    Jets moving super-fast were an optical illusion, but could explain the highest energy explosions ...

    The first cosmic collision to be seen in both gravitational waves and light has also produced jets that appear to tra...

    September 12, 2018
  • Ancient cosmic rays mapped in close galactic neighbours

    Australian-led team estimates star formation rate in Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Alan Duff...

    Cosmic rays from exploding stars in Milky Way’s closest galactic neighbours have been mapped for the very first time ...

    September 4, 2018
  • Forests pull off a useful light trick

    Volatile gases emitted by trees scatter light to increase its availability to leaves. Alan Duffy ...

    That “pine-smell” you enjoy during a walk in the woods doesn’t just lighten your mood. It lights the entire forest it...

    August 20, 2018
  • An old star learns new tricks

    The pulse of a white dwarf has astrophysicists questioning what we thought we knew about the life...

    When textbooks are proven wrong, we scientists can’t help but celebrate. So let’s raise a glass to the white dwarf! W...

    April 25, 2017
  • What now for NASA’s magnetic field probes?

    Only a few months into their mission, four spacecraft accidentally but fortuitously wandered into...

    NASA's Magnetosphere Multiscale (MMS) mission, currently zooming around Earth, directly measured magnetic field lines...

    May 17, 2016
  • Space lasers and light sails: the tech behind Breakthrough Starshot

    Our nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, is 4.4 light-years away – but a group of entrepreneurs a...

    Last year Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner invested $100 million in the search for alien life. What’s next? Going the...

    April 13, 2016
  • Spotted – the galactic birthplace of a fast radio burst

    Astronomers have, for the first time, pinpointed a galaxy that burped a massive radio pulse six b...

    Some six billion light-years away, one of the brightest explosions in the Universe unleashed a mammoth blast of radio...

    February 25, 2016
  • Ceres’ bright spots explained

    Ceres is half comet, half asteroid and its bright spots are made from Epsom salt. Astrophysicist ...

    A frozen sea? Sunlight glinting off an alien spaceship? As NASA’s Dawn space probe closed in on Ceres, the largest bo...

    December 18, 2015
  • How the Sun stole Mars’ atmosphere

    The solar wind has made Mars a cold desert, and a tougher environment for would-be colonists. Ala...

    Four billion years ago, Mars and Earth were like twins. Water flowed on the Martian surface beneath an atmosphere ric...

    November 16, 2015
  • What Rosetta found on Comet 67P

    Alan Duffy explains what the Rosetta mission has discovered, and what it has left to do.

    This series of images of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko was captured by Rosetta on 12 August 2015, as the comet spew...

    August 24, 2015
  • What on Ceres are those bright spots?

    As NASA inches closer to an answer, astrophysicist Alan Duffy weighs the possibilities.

    If the aim of travel is to view strange new sights and broaden the mind, NASA’s voyage to the asteroid belt to examin...

    June 15, 2015
  • Dawn arrives on Ceres

    After a stopover at an asteroid, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft reached its final destination. Alan Duffy...

    An artist's impression of the Dawn spacecraft making its way through the asteroid belt, where it has been sent to inv...

    March 9, 2015
  • New eye in the sky: DSCOVR to watch over Earth and Sun

    The Deep Space Climate Observatory has been launched at last. Alan Duffy reports on its historic ...

    The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasts off on 11 February 2015, carrying the Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft tha...

    February 16, 2015
  • Cosmic detectives: clues in an ancient fast radio burst

    An intense radio burst has been detected in real time by the Parkes radio telescope. Alan Duffy e...

    CSIRO’s Parkes radio telescope was the first place in the world to detect a ‘fast radio burst’ as it happened. – CSIR...

    January 29, 2015
  • What’s behind the hole in the Sun?

    Beneath the Sun's calmly smiling face is a raging tempest. We don’t know exactly why coronal ...

    The Sun’s face on 1 January shows the coronal hole as a dark region in the south. These holes occur where the magneti...

    January 12, 2015

Read science facts, not fiction...

There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.