Dr Pope wants to know whether we are alone in the universe, to uncover the origins of life on our own planet, and find out how our Sun and other stars change and influence the planets around them. But planets are very small and faint compared to stars, and we need to use extremely high performance optical hardware and statistical software to dig planets out of stellar glare.
To explore our Solar System’s origins, Dr Pope is looking at young stars to see how they are forming their own solar systems, taking high-resolution pictures of these systems at the moment of their birth using a special camera on the James Webb Space Telescope. He will search for spirals and rings in these disks that betray the gravitational influence of hidden, newborn planets.
Benjamin has led public telescope viewings of eclipses and transits for hundreds of people, and sold-out science performances in pubs. His writing for The Monthly has been included in Best Australian Science Writing 2021. Beginning with his time on BBC’s University Challenge and as the astronomy consultant on SBS’ War of the Worlds, Benjamin has experience on television, radio, and in print media.
Dr Pope was awarded his PhD in 2017 at the University of Oxford in 2017. After this he was a NASA Sagan Fellow at New York University, and is now a Lecturer in Astrophysics and ARC DECRA Fellow at the University of Queensland.
Astronomy, astrophysics, physics, optics, planetary science, statistics