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Available areas/topics for October 2017 entry

The upcoming scientific programme of the AP Group is built around the following primary areas. These are enumerated below in broad terms (where the ordering of topic and supervisors carries no “priority”):

  1. D Queloz:  A comprehensive research programme on the detection and characterisation of exoplanets. This includes active participation in the development of new instruments as well as the use of ground and space observatories. Our work is conducted in collaboration with other Cambridge institutes as well as other teams in UK and in Europe.  Further details are available at the following website:
  2. P Alexander, C Carilli, R Maiolino: The investigation of galaxy formation and evolution through the cosmic epochs by exploiting observations in the millimeter, infrared and optical bands, obtained at some the major groundbased and space observatories (e.g. IRAM, ALMA, VLT, Herschel, HST, and soon with JWST). Our research areas include the coevolution of star formation and black hole accretion, the dynamics of high redshift galaxies, the evolution of the gas content in galaxies (including gas flows), the evolution of the chemical enrichment  and the evolution of the dust properties in galaxies. These studies exploit samples spanning from galaxies in the local Universe to the most distant objects known. Further details are available at the following web site:
  3. E de Lera Acedo, P Alexander: The investigation and development of novel sensors and calibration techniques for radio astronomy, with a special interest on experiments for the study of the Cosmic Dawn and the Epoch of Re-ionization (HERA, SKA). Probing these epochs, the 'dark ages' before the first galaxies, through cosmic re-ionization and first new light, represents the frontier in studies of cosmic structure formation. Neutral hydrogen has a rest wavelength of 21 cm and by observing at low radio frequencies we can study directly redshifted emission (and absorption) from the raw material that formed the first luminous cosmic structures. Our research group has a wide range of expertise in the development of techniques and technology for radio astronomy, with activities ranging from the modeling and design of the electromagnetic sensors and receivers to its commissioning and calibration. Projects currently available include: The design, modelling, commissioning and calibration of the HERA telescope. This will include the processing of telescope data and the development of novel calibration techniques; Design of the next generation radiometric experiments for sky-averaged 21-cm cosmology. These experiments have the potential of detecting the signature signal from the Cosmic Dawn and the Epoch of Re-ionization in a matter of a few days; Calibration techniques for the SKA telescope. In this project innovative strategies for the calibration of SKA's 131,000 antennas will be developed; Design of Graphene instrumentation for sub-mm Astrophysics. Research project for the investigation of Graphene for it use in future electromagnetic sensors in the sub-mm regime.
  4. D Buscher, C Haniff, R Maiolino, J Young: The development of hardware and software associated with the next generation of near-infrared/optical interferometers and high resolution spectrometers for large telescopes. Potential topics related to interferometry include: high-sensitivity interferometric beam combiners, low-noise infrared array detectors, and software algorithms for reduction and image reconstruction of fringe data. Other opportunities are related to the optical and mechanical design of large spectrographs for the next generation of Extremely Large Telescopes, including novel techniques for the manufacture and testing of large diffraction gratings.
  5. R Saunders, P Alexander: An ambitious and timely programme of experimental cosmology that addresses themes of structure formation, the evolution of baryonic gas during galaxy assembly, the tensor-to-scalar ratio during inflation, and the interplay of magnetic fields and gas in the intra-cluster medium. We intend to exploit data from ALMA, AMI, EVLA, e-MERLIN, Planck and SKA pathfinders to achieve our science aims in these areas. We will capitalise on our expertise in radio and CMB observations, theoretical modelling and data analysis; in addition we have collaborations in place which will give us access to complementary data sets in other wavebands.
  6. A Lasenby, M Hobson, W Handley: A complementary programme (to our observational work) in theoretical cosmology addressing the confrontation of theoretical predictions with experiment, and the best way to carry this out, as well as original work in the fundamental aspects of cosmology and gravitation.  Current and planned work includes comparison of cosmological models and data sets using Bayesian evidence; tests of predictions from modified gravity theories and studies of inflation using data from the Planck satellite.
  7. N Razavi-Ghods, B Nikolic, P Alexander: A research programme in low frequency radio astronomy instrumentation and calibration techniques with focus on the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA).  HERA is a staged experiment to use the redshifted 21cm line of neutral hydrogen to characterise our cosmic dawn, from the formation of big stars and black holes around 0.1 Gyr after the Big Bang (z ~ 30) through the full reionization of the intergalactic medium ~ 1 Gyr later (z ~ 6).  The project includes the developments of front-end and receiver systems with built in instrumental calibration capabilities.  Many of these developments are also pertinent to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which the group has a leading role in.  The activities include, design and simulation, instrumental calibration data processing as well as testing and commissioning of the instrument in South Africa.
  8. C Carilli, B Nikolic: The Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) is a low frequency experiment designed to study cosmic reionization using the 21cm hyperfine line of neutral hydrogen.  Reionization corresponds to the last 'cosmic phase transition', when the neutral gas that pervaded the Universe post-recombination is reionized by the light from the first stars and black holes, a few hundred million years after the Big Bang.  Cosmic reionization is one of the last frontiers in cosmology and studies of large scale structure formation.  The HI 21cm line has the potential to be the most incisive probe of the physical processes driving reionization.  See the recent project summary paper: http//  Work at the Cavendish Laboratory ranges from RF electronics design to array commissioning to Bayesian data analysis techniques.  We are particularly looking for a student to work on array commissioning, exploring data quality, calibration, and imaging, and/or on complex data analysis to achieve first detection.  Funding for travel for commissioning work in South Africa will be through the recent Newton Fellowship Grant to Bernardi and Carilli.

Please note that the summaries above provide only a snapshot and overview of the broad research areas undertaken by staff in the group. As such they are liable to change, and so you may wish to revisit these pages closer to the deadline for your application to check for any revisions and/or updates.