Royal visit: HRH Prince Andrew visits UWA to talk astronomy and black holes

Prince Andrew (right) gets told about black holes by Dr Gemma Anderson at UWA this morning. Picture: Jon Bassett.
Prince Andrew (right) gets told about black holes by Dr Gemma Anderson at UWA this morning. Picture: Jon Bassett.

ROYALTY collided with gravity when HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York, asked radio astronomy students about would happen to the Earth if our Sun became a black hole at the University of WA this morning.

“I said ‘nothing’, because even if our Sun suddenly became a black hole it still has the same mass, and therefore the potential gravitational pull, and Earth would continue orbiting it without any difference,” Curtin Unversity-based International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research’s (ICRAR) Dr Gemma Anderson told the Western Suburbs Weekly.

Prince Andrew is the Queen’s second son and is visiting Australia to promote business, science technology and engineering.

At UWA he was given an overview of ICRAR and the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project.

The array is one of the largest scientific projects in history, which involves building a radio telescope with bases in WA and South Africa.

Prince Andrew reacts to being told by student astronomers Robin Cook and Daniel Ung that aliens could hear our radio signals. Picture; Jon Bassett.

ICRAR will be a user of the array when it is built in the Murchison region after 2020.

“He is an advocate for us, and to make sure we can educate the young so they come and use, build and develop this telescope,” ICRAR executive director Prof Peter Quinn said

Prince Andrew also unveiled a foundation plaque for the university’s $18 million Ezone Student Hub, in which students, graduates and the engineering industry will work together in a bespoke building at the west side of the campus from 2020.

“He asked us if other constellations can hear our radio signals and detect us,” ICRAR doctoral student Robin Cook said.

The students’ answer of “they can” caused a right royal response.

“It was somewhere between ‘should I be baffled?”, and being quite excited that aliens could hear us,” Mr Cook said.