Science at the AAO

The Australian Astronomical Observatory is home to an extremely dynamic and diverse research group. AAO astronomers collaborate with astronomers across the globe and are recognized leaders in many areas of research. The AAO's instrument scientists produce some of the world's most innovative and ground-breaking new instrument technologies.

Major AAT/UKST Observing Programs


  • Taipan A planned survey to measure the Hubble constant to a precision of 1%, measure the bulk flow of galaxies in the nearby Universe in order to better understand cosmology, and to probe some of the lowest mass galaxies in the nearby Universe to understand galaxy formation and evolution.
  • OzDES A survey to measure the redshifts of tens of thousands of galaxies and obtain spectra of supernovae and other transients. The galaxy redshifts will be used to make the most detailed measurement of the Universe's expansion history, leading to a better understanding of the physics behind the acceleration of the Universe.
  • GALAH A spectroscopic survey of 1 million galactic stars to measure elemental abundances and measure stellar kinematics to understand the formation history of our Milky Way galaxy.
  • SAMI A spatially-resolved spectroscopic survey of ~3000 galaxies, the largest ever to date, to explore the kinematics and internal astrophysical processes of galaxies to understand galaxy formation.
  • 2dFLens A spectroscopic survey of 100,000 galaxies to test gravitational physics by comparing the velocities of galaxy lenses with the shape distortions of background galaxies caused by weak gravitational lensing, and to perform photometric redshift calibration of the input imaging surveys.
  • The Anglo-Australian Planet Search The Southern Hemisphere's most precise planet search program.


  • GAMA A redshift survey of 300,000 galaxies to study structure on scales of 1 kpc to 1 Mpc. This includes galaxy clusters, groups, mergers and coarse measurements of galaxy structure (i.e., bulges and discs). It is on these scales where baryons play a critical role in the galaxy formation and subsequent evolutionary processes and where our understanding of structure in the Universe breaks down.
  • RAVE Using the kinematics and abundances of stars to probe the history of our Galaxy
  • WiggleZ A redshift survey of 250,000 star-forming galaxies to detect baryonic acoustic oscillations in galaxy clustering, and measure the equation of state of dark energy
  • The 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey Redshifts for more than 220,000 galaxies acquired with the AAT providing a unique map of the Universe, confirming the existence of dark energy and exploring galaxy formation and evolution.
  • The 2dF Quasar Redshift survey Redshifts for 35,000 quasars acquired with the AAT.
  • The UKST H-alpha Survey Observing the entire Galactic Plane in a hydrogen emission line.
  • The 6dF Galaxy Survey Redshifts for more than 120,000 infrared-selected galaxies in the local Universe acquired with the UKST for measuring the bulk flow of galaxies to understand cosmology.

Student Research at the AAO

The AAO maintains a vigorous program of joint student supervision of PhD and Honours students with University departments, as well as offering Vacation Student Fellowships to undergraduate students from both Australia and the United Kingdom.

Talks, Meetings and Conferences

The Colloquia and Conferences page is regularly updated with information on talks and meetings at the AAO and ATNF.