Richard Hunstead

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Richard Waller Hunstead
Born -
Residence Sydney, Australia
Nationality -
Citizenship Australian
Alma mater The University of Sydney
Known for scintillation
Scientific career
Fields Astronomy, Astrophysics
Institutions The University of Sydney
Doctoral advisor -
Other academic advisors -
Doctoral students -
Other notable students -

Professor Richard (Dick) Waller Hunstead is a member and former head of the Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA) and the Director of the Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope (MOST), within the University of Sydney. Dick is internationally recognised for his work in the field of quasars and radio galaxies. In 1995, he was awarded the Robert Ellery Lectureship of the Astronomical Society of Australia in recognition of his outstanding contributions in astronomy. One of 33 Australian Science Citation Laureates (of which only nine are astronomers), he is the author of multiple high impact papers which are frequently cited by other scientists around the world.[1] The minor planet 171429 Hunstead is named in his honour.[2]

His most notable achievements to date include the discovery of the variability of radio sources at low frequencies,[3] resulting in a large number of related research projects, conferences and workshops internationally, and his research into the redshift evolution of the Lyman alpha absorption forest. Dick's work on the Lyman alpha forest resolved much of the confusion surrounding the nature of the cloud population responsible for these absorption lines, by confirming that their comoving number density does indeed evolve with redshift.[4] He has also contributed to our understanding of the metallicity, dust content and star formation rate in high redshift galaxies from his comprehensive study of damped Lyman alpha systems.[5][6][7] This has subsequently motivated interest in galaxy formation and evolution. More recently, he was involved in a study that showed radio loud quasars have distinct spectroscopic signatures that depend on their orientation and size.[8] He is currently leading an international team to locate and study the first massive galaxies formed in the Universe.


Hunstead attended North Sydney Boys High School, on the North Shore of Sydney.[9] In 1963, he graduated from Sydney University with a B.Sc (Hons) and in 1972, completed his PhD titled "Studies of selected radio sources" with Bernard Mills as his supervisor, also at Sydney University.


  1. ^ National Library of Australia Collection (accessed 10 May 2007)
  2. ^;orb=0;cov=0;log=0#elem JPL Small-Body Database Browser (accessed 25 February 2008)
  3. ^ Hunstead, R. W.,1972, Astrophysical Letters, 12, 193–200
  4. ^ Murdoch H.S., Hunstead R. W., Pettini M., Blades J.C., 1986, Astrophysical Journal, 309, 19–32
  5. ^ Pettini M., Boksenburg A., Hunstead R.W., 1990, Astrophysical Journal, 348, 48–56
  6. ^ Hunstead R. W., Pettini M., Fletcher A. B., 1990, Astrophysical Journal, 356, 23–31
  7. ^ Pettini M., Smith L. J., Hunstead R. W., King D. L., 1994, Astrophysical Journal, 426, 79–96
  8. ^ Baker J. C., Hunstead R. W., 1995, Astrophysical Journal, 452, L95-L98
  9. ^ NSBHS Leaving Certificate 1959