Peter Quinn

Professor, BSc W'gong, PhD ANU, FTSE, FASA

  • M468
    35 Stirling Highway


  • The University of Western Australia (M021), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus

Personal profile


Prof. Peter Quinn was born in Australia and received his BSc(Hons) in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Wollongong in 1978 where he received the University Medal in Physics. He conducted graduate studies in astronomy and astrophysics at the Australian National University and received his PhD in 1982 with a thesis dissertation on dynamics of disk galaxy mergers. His discovery of the structure and dynamics of galactic shells was highlighted in the Making of the Australian National University 1946-1996 as a major contribution to international astronomical research. During postdoctoral appointments in Theoretical Astrophysics at the California Institute of Technology (1982-1985) and the Space Telescope Science Institute (1985-1989) Prof. Quinn pursued his research interests in galaxy formation and dynamics, cosmology and dark matter using supercomputing facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Pittsburgh Supercomputer Centre. This work discovered the Quinn-Goodman effect for angular momentum dependent galactic accretion. In 1989, Prof. Quinn took up a Research Fellowship in the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at ANU to lead the Australian involvement in the MACHO Dark Matter Search Project. The MACHO project took the front cover of Nature with the first microlensing evidence of baryonic dark matter in 1991. His work on computational astrophysics was awarded a NASA High Performance Computing and Communications Grand Challenge Award in 1992. In 1995, Prof. Quinn accepted a position as Division Head of the newly formed Data Management and Operations Division at the European Southern Observatory headquarters in Munich. While at ESO, Prof. Quinn lead the efforts to design, implement and operate an end-to-end science data flow system for the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT), the world’s largest optical and infrared observatory. This work was awarded a Computerworld 21st Century Achievement Award for Science in June 2005. During his time at ESO, Prof. Quinn directed the FP-5 Astrophysical Virtual Observatory (AVO) project, helped lay the foundations for the International Virtual Observatory Alliance and coordinated the formation of the EURO-VO as a program to realize VO-enable science for Europe. In December 2005, Prof. Quinn was awarded a Western Australian Premier’s Fellowship and took up the position of Professor of Astronomy at the University of Western Australia in August 2006.

Roles and responsibilities

International Virtual Observatory Alliance.

Future research

Epoch of Reionization. Cosmology of the dark ages. Evolution of HI during galaxy formation.

Funding overview

Premier's Fellowship.

Previous positions

Head, Data Management and Operations Division, European Southern Observtory, Munich, Germany.

Industrial relevance

Planning and implementation of large-scale and international research infrastructures.


Prof. Quinn's research focuses on the formation and evolution of galaxies using supercomputer computations and simulations. In particular, he is working on the nature of Dark Matter, the formation and evolution of Dark Matter around galaxies and its influence on the galaxy formation process. His interests include galaxy internal dynamics and galaxy interactions/mergers, dissipationless collapse and phase mixing, disk and bulge formation, the connection between galactic nuclear activity and Hubble type and the detailed baryonic and non-baryonic processes occurring during the Epoch of Reionization. Prof. Quinn's ultimate aim is to develop a useable theory of galaxy formation based on the insights gained from detailed modelling and state-of-the art observations in the opitcal/IR and radio. He is also interested in challenges associated with large-scale data intensive and computationally science, in particular the concept of a Virtual Observatory and research using large digital astronomical archives.


English (mother tongue)
German (poor)

Research expertise keywords

  • Dark matter
  • Petascale computing


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  • 1 Similar Profiles

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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  • Fundamental physics with the Square Kilometre Array

    Weltman, A., Bull, P., Camera, S., Kelley, K., Padmanabhan, H., Pritchard, J., Raccanelli, A., Riemer-Sørensen, S., Shao, L., Andrianomena, S., Athanassoula, E., Bacon, D., Barkana, R., Bertone, G., Bœhm, C., Bonvin, C., Bosma, A., Brüggen, M., Burigana, C., Calore, F., & 33 othersCembranos, J. A. R., Clarkson, C., Connors, R. M. T., Cruz-Dombriz, D. L., Dunsby, P. K. S., Fonseca, J., Fornengo, N., Gaggero, D., Harrison, I., Larena, J., Ma, Y. Z., Maartens, R., Méndez-Isla, M., Mohanty, S. D., Murray, S., Parkinson, D., Pourtsidou, A., Quinn, P. J., Regis, M., Saha, P., Sahlén, M., Sakellariadou, M., Silk, J., Trombetti, T., Vazza, F., Venumadhav, T., Vidotto, F., Villaescusa-Navarro, F., Wang, Y., Weniger, C., Wolz, L., Zhang, F. & Gaensler, B. M., 27 Jan 2020, (E-pub ahead of print) In: Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia. e002.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    Open Access
    191 Citations (Scopus)
  • The Phase II Murchison Widefield Array: Design overview

    Wayth, R. B., Tingay, S. J., Trott, C. M., Emrich, D., Johnston-Hollitt, M., McKinley, B., Gaensler, B. M., Beardsley, A. P., Booler, T., Crosse, B., Franzen, T. M. O., Horsley, L., Kaplan, D. L., Kenney, D., Morales, M. F., Pallot, D., Sleap, G., Steele, K., Walker, M., Williams, A., & 9 othersWu, C., Cairns, I. H., Filipovic, M. D., Johnston, S., Murphy, T., Quinn, P., Staveley-Smith, L., Webster, R. & Wyithe, J. S. B., 23 Nov 2018, In: Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia. 35, 9 p., e033.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    192 Citations (Scopus)
  • A radio astronomy search for cold dark matter axions

    Kelley, K. & Quinn, P. J., 10 Aug 2017, In: Letters of the Astrophysical Journal. 845, 1, 5 p., L4.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)
  • Searching for axion dark matter using radio telescopes

    Kelley, K. & Quinn, P. J., 2017, Proceedings of the 13th Patras Workshop on Axions, WIMPs and WISPs, PATRAS 2017. Maroudas, M. (ed.). Verlag Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron, p. 43-46 4 p. (Proceedings of the 13th Patras Workshop on Axions, WIMPs and WISPs, PATRAS 2017).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paperpeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
  • Imaging SKA-scale data in three different computing environments

    Dodson, R., Vinsen, K., Wu, C., Popping, A., Meyer, M., Wicenec, A., Quinn, P., Van Gorkom, J. & Momjian, E., 1 Jan 2016, In: Astronomy and Computing. 14, p. 8-22 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Open Access
    14 Citations (Scopus)