Sophie Young


Creator of Galaxies

I'm from: Hobart, Tasmania
Current Location: Hobart, Tasmania
Position: PhD candidate, School of Natural Sciences (Physics), College of Sciences and Engineering, University of Tasmania
Field of research/work: Astrophysics
YTS Years: 2024

Sophie's Notable career moments

  • Developed a love-hate relationship with maths after a failed school project

  • Massive maths nerd by the end of primary school

  • Had an awesome group of science and maths teachers

  • Feb: Excited to start studying maths and physics at UTAS
    Mar: … lots of Zoom classes

  • Finally learnt how to code

  • Summer research project – my first taste of computational astrophysics

  • Started making galaxies!

  • Continued my research looking at how black holes affect their surroundings

  • First talk at a national conference!

About Sophie Young

I’m not what you might picture when you hear the term “scientist” – I’m just a bit of a maths nerd who sits at a computer all day creating pretend galaxies. I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up (I still don’t!), but a highlight of my childhood was getting a new Women’s Weekly puzzle book for Christmas every year. I have always loved solving puzzles and learning how the world works, particularly being able to explain everyday phenomena – such as traffic jams or rainbows – using the language of maths and physics. After finishing school, I decided to go to university and study maths and physics, with no idea what I would end up doing at the end of it. In my second year, I took my first ever coding class and absolutely loved it! Coding is a bit like solving a puzzle or learning a new language – there are set rules to follow and problems to solve, but it becomes much easier the more you do!

I work in something called “computational astrophysics” – this basically requires me to combine my physics and coding knowledge to model processes which happen in space! Black holes can launch powerful jets of hot material which mix up the gas in surrounding galaxies, possibly stopping new stars from forming! These jets release a lot of light which we can see using telescopes here on Earth, but because they are so far away, it can be hard to tell what is happening within the galaxy. This is where the “computational” part comes in – I use a really powerful supercomputer to create galaxies from scratch, launch black hole jets into them, and figure out what a telescope might see!

Sophie's Photo Gallery