Dr Richard Manchester, Federation Fellow, ATNF.

Dr Richard Manchester, Federation Fellow, ATNF.

Dr Dick Manchester: pulsar hunter

CSIRO's Dr Dick Manchester is a world pulsar expert and is using pulsars to test theories of gravity.

  • 20 November 2007 | Updated 14 October 2011

Dr Dick Manchester is a Federation Fellow, and Australia Telescope National Facility Team Leader, with the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array project.

In 1968, Dr Manchester started work at the Parkes Observatory as a young research scientist.

That same week a paper announcing the discovery of pulsars by a British team appeared in the prestigious journal Nature.

Dr Manchester was soon hooked by pulsars and has devoted his scientific life to investigating them.

In 1968, he joined the CSIRO Division of Radiophysics at the Parkes Observatory. From 1969 to 1974 he worked in the United States.

He is now a world-renowned expert on pulsars and leads a team of astronomers at CSIRO’s Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) dedicated to unlocking the secrets of pulsars.

Currently an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow, Dr Manchester is team leader of the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array project.

This long-term project aims to detect gravitational waves through the accurate timing of the arrival of pulses from pulsars from different regions of the sky.

“Pulsars are fascinating objects. They are always coming up with something new and unpredictable.”
Dr Dick Manchester, CSIRO

Why does he study pulsars?

According to Dr Manchester, 'Pulsars are fascinating objects. They are always coming up with something new and unpredictable.'

In 2003-04, using the Parkes radio telescope, Dr Manchester was part of the team that discovered the first known double pulsar system.

This discovery was voted one of the Top 10 Science Breakthroughs of 2004 by the journal Science.

He was also responsible for large-scale surveys using the sensitive Parkes radio telescope to discover more pulsars.

These surveys have been incredibly successful, finding two-thirds of all pulsars now discovered worldwide.

His specific areas of interest include:

  • the precision timing of pulsars and its applications
  • the origin and evolution of pulsars
  • emission and beam mechanisms from pulsars. 

Dr Manchester has also monitored the supernova remnant SNR 1987A since its inception to try and find out more about the structure and evolution of supernova remnants.

He has worked extensively in China to help establish pulsar astronomy there.

Strong partnerships with the pulsar group at Jodrell Bank Observatory in the UK and with Swinburne University of Technology in Victoria among others result in an active exchange of ideas and people.

Academic qualifications

Dr Manchester graduated from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, with a Bachelor of Science with Honours in 1964 and was subsequently awarded a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.

Achievements

Dr Manchester was made a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 1989, and awarded an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship in 2003. 

In 2007 he was made a CSIRO Fellow, and in the same year he received CSIRO's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr Manchester has published more than 250 refereed publications, three books, over 40 invited reviews, more than 90 conference proceedings.

At present Dr Manchester holds honorary or adjunct professorships at four universities in Australia and overseas.

Among his other awards Dr Manchester was an ISI Australian Citation Laureate in 2001 and an Inaugural Member of the ISI Highly Cited Researchers in 2002. Dr Manchester is also:

  • Honorary Fellow, Royal Society of New Zealand
  • winner of the Walter Burfitt Prize of the Royal Society of NSW
  • winner of a CSIRO Medal, 1993
  • winner of the Pawsey Medal, Australian Academy of Science, 1978
  • Guest Professor, Peking University, Beijing, China
  • Honorary Professor, Department of Physics, University of Hong Kong
  • Adjunct Professor, School of Physics, University of Sydney
  • Honorary Professor, National Astronomical Observatories, Urumqi, China.

Learn about CSIRO's Astronomy and Space Facilities.