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Cavendish Astrophysics


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”):


  • 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:


  • P B Rimmer: Prebiotic chemistry and origins of life must be studied in a planetary context. Recent breakthroughs in origins of life research have revealed that this planetary context is also astrophysical: to understand prebiotic chemistry on a planet, we need to understand the nature of that planet’s star. This connection has given rise to a new sub-field in Astrophysics: Planetary Astrochemistry. Prospective students interested in pursuing experimental or computational research in this nascent field are encouraged to go to this webpage: for more information.


  • R Maiolino & S Tacchella: The investigation of galaxy formation and evolution, from the Cosmic Dawn to the nearby Universe, by exploiting observations in the millimeter, infrared and optical bands, obtained at some the major groundbased and space observatories (e.g. Atacama Large Millimetre Array, Very Large Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, and the James Webb Space Telescope). Our research areas include the coevolution of star formation and black holes, 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 observational studies exploit samples spanning from galaxies in the local Universe to the most distant objects known. We also use and develop analytical and cosmological numerical models to shed light on the physical properties of galaxies. This group is located in the Kavli Institute for Cosmology ( Additional information on the activities of this research group and potential topics for PhD projects can be found at the following pages:


  • E de Lera Acedo: Radio astronomy and 21-cm Cosmology (REACHHERASKA). We welcome applications from individuals wishing to enrol in an exciting cutting-edge research program on radio cosmology, with a special interest on experiments for the study of the Cosmic Dawn and the Epoch of Re-ionization. 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. Projects currently available include:
    • Data analysis and Astrophysical interpretation with the REACH and HERA radio telescopes.
    • Data analysis, Calibration and Science predictions for the SKA radio telescope.
    • Design of the next generation radio cosmology instruments: radiometer design, calibration, measurements of mK-level emissions, wide-band low-noise multi antenna systems, experiment design, electromagnetic modelling, as well as synergies with industrial applications. Current technical projects include collaborations with ESA and NPL amongst others.


  • D Buscher, C Haniff, R Maiolino & J Young: Optical and infrared instrumentation. We develop hardware, software, and techniques for the next generation of long-baseline optical interferometers and high-resolution astronomical spectrographs. Potential project topics include: high-sensitivity interferometric beam combiners, low-noise infrared array detectors, algorithms for analysis of interferometric data, image reconstruction for optical interferometers, novel techniques for the manufacture and testing of metre-sized diffraction gratings, and development and testing of ultra-high-precision calibration techniques for astronomical spectrographs.



  • W Barker, M Hobson & A Lasenby: Gravitational theory and quantum gravity.
    • Fundamental theory of the gravitational interaction: gauge-theoretic and geometric formulations (torsion, non-metricity); canonically-driven methods; theoretical constraints on less conservative formulations (e.g. relativistic MoND, gravity as an order parameter of the fermion vacuum).
    • Perturbative quantum gravity: particle spectra in strong backgrounds; effective field theory of gravity.
    • Non-perturbative quantum gravity: lattice regularisations including dynamical triangulations; novel applications of geometric algebra.
    • Phenomenology of modified gravity: classical dynamics and exact solutions; cosmological perturbation theory; primordial non-Gaussianity and shape templates; parametersised post-Newtonian formalism; detection of non-Riemannian geometries; implications for fermion physics. Links with cosmological inference, numerics and computation in W Handley's group.
    • Computer algebra: use of high-performance computing to solve symbolic (non-numerical) problems in gravity theory; surveying the theory-space for viable Lagrangia; theory-agnostic tools (HiGGS, PSALTer).


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.