The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are Australia’s most prestigious awards for outstanding achievements in scientific research, research-based innovation, and excellence in science teaching.

The award for the Physical Scientist of the Year went to Dr Keith Bannister from the CSIRO, whose research on intergalactic radio waves is helping answer some of astronomy’s biggest questions.

“We used a telescope in Western Australia called the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder that’s built by the CSIRO and operated by the CSIRO,” he told Sky News Australia.

Dr Bannister said the team would use the telescope to find “bursts of radio waves,” which only last for a millisecond before they disappear.

He said once the burst was located, the telescope “zoomed in on its location in a galaxy” and would use other telescopes from other countries to learn more about it.

“We got in touch with our colleagues from around the world and used telescopes as far-flung as Hawaii and Chile to find out, really, what we could find out about that particular burst at the time,” he said.

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