Cassidy Mihalenko


Star crash investigator

I'm from: Melbourne, Victoria
Current Location: Hobart, Tasmania
Position: PhD Candidate, School of Natural Sciences, UTAS
Field of research/work: Astrophysics
YTS Years: 2024

Cassidy's Notable career moments

  • Discovered my love of space

  • Got my first telescope

  • Got into my dream university course to study physics

  • Added a year to my course (physics is hard)

  • First time using a big telescope for research

  • Started a 2 year Project studying exploding stars and black holes

  • Started a 4 year Project researching the most energetic explosions in the universe!

About Cassidy Mihalenko

Space is full of amazing things – stars, planets, galaxies, and lots of explosions. I’ve always loved looking up at the night sky and wondering about what weird and wonderful things are out there. So, I became an astronomer.

I got my own telescope for my 16th birthday, but I still had so many questions about what else is out there and how can I see them, so I chose to be an observational astronomer. This means I get to use big research telescopes and analyse the pictures taken. I specialise in ‘optical’, which means I work using the light we can see with our eyes. Next, I had to choose which things I wanted to observe and study, and I decided that the coolest thing I could look at would be exploding stars!

In my masters, I was looking for supernovae, which are the explosive deaths of massive stars that happens when they run out of fuel. I looking to see if the colour and heat of the explosion would tell us what kind of explosion happened?

Next, I moved to Hobart to do a 4 year research project (PhD). The University of Tasmania has two optical telescopes that I get to use as much as I want! Now I’m interested in a more specific case of exploding stars; neutron star mergers. Some supernovae result in the core of the star being so compressed that they form a dead core made entirely of neutrons, which we call a neutron star. Sometimes, two neutron stars collide, and merge. This creates the most energetic explosions in the entire universe! There is so much material and power in these explosions that they create almost all the heavy elements in the universe, including gold. If you have any gold in your house, it was created by colliding stars!

I am working to observe as many of these mergers and explosions as I can so that I can figure out how they work.


Cassidy's Photo Gallery