Joss Hawthorn

Welcome to my home page. Up until October 31st 2007, I am Head of Instrument Science at the Anglo-Australian Observatory(AAO) engaged in astrophysical research & instrument development. After that date, I move to the Institute of Astronomy, School of Physics at the University of Sydney to take up a Federation Fellow Professorship, but will take on the role of Distinguished Fellow at the Observatory. I am a Visiting Professor of the Australia National University, Canberra and hold visiting positions with schools in France, Spain, UK and USA. See Profile of an Australian Astronomer under the web pages of the Astronomical Society of Australia. For media purposes, there is a high resolution portrait available here.

Contact Details at AAO

Phone: (02) 9372-4851
Fax: (02) 9372-4880
Postal Address: AAO, PO Box 296, Epping, NSW 2121, Australia
Fedex Address: AAO, 167 Vimiera Rd, Eastwood, NSW 2122, Australia

Astrophysics Research & Instrument Science

Research Highlights

For web links to my research papers since 1984, use the ADS search engine and search on "Bland-Hawthorn, Bland,  J." You will also need to highlight the Astrophysics, Physics and Astro-ph buttons.

These fall into two different categories: astrophysics and instrument science.


Instrument Science

Research Interests


Instrument Science


Near field cosmology

You might like to see a review I wrote with Ken Freeman on "The Baryon Halo of the Milky Way" (Science, Jan 2000) or a related article in "Clues to Galaxy Formation" (Nature, July 1999). Both of these articles attempt to show that the time is ripe for a general convergence of far-field cosmology and near-field cosmology (cosmogony). This is a topic we explore in greater detail in our Annual Reviews 2002 article. After a successful Aspen Winter School on Near Field Cosmology in Feb 2006, Jim Peebles and I wrote an update on this topic.

Here is a series of audio files where I describe our most recent work on the closest disk galaxy beyond the Local Group. In 2005, we presented evidence in the Astrophysical Journal (ApJ) that the galaxy stellar disk extends twice as far as was previously believed. Using the Gemini South telescope, we reach equivalent surface brightness levels that have never been achieved before. The full news story is available at this site.

Interplanetary laser communications

In 2002, I wrote two papers on "Laser Telemetry from Space" with father and son team, Martin & Alex Harwit (Science, July 2002). The papers were adopted as a NASA white paper in that same year and a workshop was held at JPL to discuss the work. In early 2006, and sooner than I had ever anticipated, a NASA Goddard team achieved the first interplanetary laser communications over a distance of 24 million km (Science, Jan 2006). With specific reference to my work, their paper describes how they used the MESSENGER satellite which is on a 6.6 year voyage to Mercury and due to arrive in early 2011. For more information, see our laser communications website.

Popular articles

I have written popular articles with Gerald Cecil and Sylvain Veilleux on "Colossal Galactic Explosions" and "The Life of a Quasar" (Scientific American, Mar. 2000). We explore the topic of "Galactic Winds" in greater detail in our Annual Reviews 2005 article.

You might like to see my two entries for the Encyclopaedia of Astronomy & Astrophysics (ed. P.G. Murdin): "Gas in Galaxies" with Ron Reynolds, and "Tunable Imaging Filters".

Here is my recent petition to the scientific community (Science, Aug 2006) to recognize the extraordinary advances made possible by computational science. Without them, we would still be contemplating von Neumann's stalemate of 1946.

Recent Media Interviews

My recent appearances on ABC radio are available here as audio files. I have made regular appearances on ABC radio and TV since 1995.

Family Pictures

Recent pictures of the little men

Paul's wonderful picture collection (2000)

Paul's wonderful picture collection (Sept 2006)

Last updated: 8-Nov-2006
Joss Hawthorn (