As Natasha Hurley-Walker makes clear in her astronomy speech, it's difficult to observe the universe. Though any person can look up into the sky on a clear night, our eyes aren't designed to gaze into deep space and see anything outside of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Even using the most powerful telescopes that human ingenuity has delivered, which can pick up galaxies far distant from our own, astronomers can still only get a picture of the visible spectrum of light. That's where radio telescopes come in.
Anyone who's gone through a high school physics class knows about the Doppler effect: waves will be stretched or compressed when respectively moving away from or towards the observer. Since the universe is expanding, everything is moving away from everything else, so the light waves of distant galaxies appear red. However, light is on a spectrum beyond visible light (i.e. colors,) meaning that objects sufficiently far away will be infrared, an invisible light wave.
Hurley-Walker and her team of researchers created a radio telescope in the desert of Australia called GLEAM. It can sense these invisible infrared rays, and it thus gives us a greater picture of the universe.
Understanding Radio Telescopes
More Stats +/-
Using Stars to Understand Our Universe
Humanity’s Connection with Science
Making Hostile Environments Habitable
The Search for UFOs