Exchange Report by Christian Glück

Project affiliation: A3
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. J. Stutzki,  I Phys. Inst., Universität zu Köln; Prof. Dr. F. Bertoldi, AIfA, Universität zu Bonn;
Dr. R. Simon, I Phys. Inst., Universität zu Köln
Hosting institution: University of New South Wales (UNSW), NSW, Australia
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. M.G. Burton
Duration of stay abroad: 27.07.2013 -28.09.2013

Introduction

In my doctoral project I'm investigating the conditions of molecular clouds in their early stages of formation. These clouds consist manly of neutral Hydrogen HI and molecular Hydrogen H2, which is the most abundant molecule in space. HI traces mainly diffuse clouds. H2 appears mainly in denser regions. Unfortunately H2. is not directly observable. The second abundant molecule in space is CO. CO is a good tracer for the denser parts of molecular clouds. The intermedium regime between the denser inner parts of clouds and the diffuse parts can be traced by the neutral carbon lines [CI] (J=1-0 and J=2-1) and the ionised carbon line [CII]. In regions where we observe these lines in the absence of CO we presumably see regions with H2 which are invisible for CO (the so called 'CO dark H2 gas').
We need large scale maps in CO, HI, [CI] and [CII] of the Milky Way to understand the structure and formation of molecular clouds.

Within my work I'm participating in the 'The Mopra–STO–Nanten2 Atomic and Molecular Gas Survey'. This survey tries to map the major carbon species (CO, [CI] and [CII]) in large parts of the southern galactic plane. The CO (J=1-0) observations are performed with the Mopra telescope in Australia (roughly 400 km north west of Sydney).

Experiences

Mopra is a 22m radio telescope near Coonabarabran. Within the student exchange program of the SFB 956 I had the chance to support the Mopra observations in Australia directly at the ATNF facility in Narrabri. Narrabri is roughly 100 km away from the telescope. From this side Mopra is maintained. The ATNF facility Narrabri is also the location for the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA). This array consist of six 22m dishes, similar as Mopra. Other telescopes are also located at this side.

As observer you directly live on the telescope side. The accommodations are located in a lodge. The lodge isn't the most modern place but it has a nice atmosphere. The food is prepared by two elder lovely 'Moms'. For the exploration of the landscape free bikes are available.

For a German the facility is more or less in the middle of nowhere. The next town is ~30 km away. Even if you had to work all the time, it is relaxing to work there. Each day has the same routine. Observing and working, eating, a little bike tour and then go to sleep. I deeply appreciated this time at Narrabri.

The most fascinating experience at the telescope site is the wildlife. The  facility is surrounded by agriculture. The local farmers hunt kangaroos on their land. At the telescope site no one disturbs them. So the facility side became a little paradise for kangaroos. It is nearly impossible to take a look outside without seeing at least half a dozen  kangaroos.
But also lizards, Geckos, Enchiladas and all kinds of bird as Parrots can be seen at the side. My favourite animals were the 'Apostle Birds'. These birds are very curious. Apostle birds got their name from their appearances in little family groups of 12 Birds, like the Apostles. Surprisingly the number is correct.

To put it all in a nutshell, observations in Narrabri are a fascinating experience, not only from the scientific point of view, but also from the side of the people, landscape and the wildlife.

After holding his degree in autumn 2016 Christian started his career at a logistics consulting company.