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Research Activities

Big Data/Exascale Astronomy

Projects such as the SKA are exemplars of big data astronomy and exascale computing.

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SKA artist’s impression

 

Cm-wave Technology and Novel Sensors

We develop techniques and technology for cm-wave radio astronomy. We are currently involved in a series of projects such as SKA-low, RAPID, HERA and SKA AA-Mid and we are researching new designs to develop novel sensors based on materials such as Graphene.

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SKA antenna elements designed at Cambridge

Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB)

A significant fraction of the Astrophysics Group is involved in work on the Cosmic Microwave Background, both experimental and theoretical. We are currently operating the Arcminute Microkelvin Imager, an arcminute-scale survey telescope, and developing analysis techniques for the Planck satellite.

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Credit: ESA

 

Exoplanets

Our research team focuses on the detection and characterisation of extrasolar planets. We are also involved in the development of new instrumentation.

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Exoplanet impression

 

Galaxy Formation and Evolution

The two main research interests within the Galaxy Evolution area are the formation and cosmological evolution of galaxies, in particular the physical mechanisms regulating star formation and galaxy assembly, and secondly the origin and evolution of radio sources and the effect they have on their environment. There is mounting evidence that these phenomena are in fact closely related.

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Artist’s impression of a Black Hole

 

Optical Technology

The main focus of our research is the application of the aperture synthesis technique at optical wavelengths, in order to produce extremely high resolution images of astronomical objects.

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VLT

 

Radio Cosmology

We have an active research group working on early universe observations at radio wavelengths, a with particular focus on the Epoch of Reionization. We participate in an ongoing project (PAPER: The precision array for probing the Epoch of Reionization) and lead antenna design work for the low frequency array of the Square Kilometre Array.

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Simulation by Dr. Daniel Jacobs of the imaging capabilities of HERA.

 

Star Formation

An understanding of the process of star formation is an essential requirement of theories of galaxy formation and evolution, and gives direct insights into the formation of our own Sun and the number of extra-solar planets we expect to find in the Galaxy. We use telescopes operating at millimetre and sub-mm wavelengths to observe the cool molecular clouds which are collapsing to form stars and help understand the basic physics of star formation. The image shows the Orion A molecular cloud, with SCUBA-2 850 micron emission (red) tracing dust lanes which block the optical light observed with HST (blue).

Orion A molecular cloud, with SCUBA-2 850 micron showing dust lanes blocking optical light observed with HST.
Orion A

 

Theoretical Cosmology and Gravitational Physics

We work on topics in theoretical cosmology and astrophysics, as well as on advanced data analysis methods for cosmology. The active areas of research span inflationary cosmology to novel neural network methods, with a common theme of the confrontation of theoretical predictions with experiment, and the best way to carry this out. Topics addressed include Bayesian Evidence-based comparison of cosmological models and data sets, tests of predictions from modified gravity theories, gravitational wave template detection and analysis, and tests of inflation using data from the Planck Satellite. We also work actively on more theoretical topics involving the construction of modified gravity theories themselves, and the localisation of energy and spin in General Relativity.

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Credit: NASA