Dr Laura Driessen

Dr Laura Driessen

Dr Laura Driessen

Radio Astronomer

CSIRO

When we look up at the night sky, we might wonder if any of the stars we see host life on the planets that orbit them. But what makes a good host?

A habitable planet shouldn’t be too hot or too cold, and hopefully it has liquid water on it. The star the planet orbits is also important. If the star flares and shoots out big bursts of plasma, a planet orbiting that star might not be the best place to search for life. Astronomer Laura Driessen uses some of the biggest radio telescopes in the world, telescopes like ASKAP right here in Australia, to try and find those flaring stars. If we know which ones flare, we know where not to look for life. Most things a radio telescope sees in the sky are galaxies, Laura works on sorting out what’s a star and what’s not.

Laura completed her master’s degree at the University of Amsterdam in 2017 and her PhD at the University of Manchester in 2021. She’s now back home in Australia, working as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the CSIRO.