Academic Staff
Michael G. Burton

B.A., M.A. Cambridge, Ph.D. Edinb.
Fellow Astronomical Society of Australia (FASA)


Department and Research Groups

Research Interests

My research centres around the study of how stars form and the excitation of the interstellar medium in which this occurs. This primarily uses the tools of infrared and millimetre-wave astronomy, measuring the spectral signature of the gas and dust in molecular clouds. My particular specialty the study of the emission from molecular hydrogen, heated by both shock waves and UV photons originating from young stars, using this to investigate their environment. Recently, this has lead to the discovery of shocked molecular gas inside 'hot molecular cores', at the very earliest stages of the massive star formation process. The aim of this program is to identify the sequence of events that occurs as a massive star forms, through uncovering observational signatures of the processes at work. The newly-commissioned millimetre facilities of the Mopra and Australia Telescopes are playing a primary role in this work.

In the pursuit of more sensitive measurements of these processes, my research has lead me to Antarctica, where the extremely cold and dry air provides the best infrared and sub-mm observing conditions on the Earth. I am actively involved in the development of Antarctic astronomy, through the determination of the site properties on the Antarctic Plateau and the exploitation of the unique conditions to peer further into star-forming clouds.

Selected Publications

  • Shocked [OI] 63um emission from the SNR IC 443. Astrophys. J., 355, 197 (1990).
  • Line Emission from Clumpy Photodissociation Regions. Astrophys.J., 365, 620 (1990).
  • Explosive Ejection associated with Star Formation in Orion. Nature, 363, 54 (1993)
  • The Scientific Potential of the Antarctic Plateau for Astronomy. Proc. Ast. Soc. Aust., 11, 127 (1994).
  • High resolution imaging of photodissociation regions in NGC 6334. Astrophys. J., 542, 359 (2002).

Contact Details 

Mail Address

School of Physics
The University of New South Wales

Email Address

Personal Home Page

Phone Number

61 2 9385 5618

Facsimile Number

61 2 9385 6060