Explore our work in astrophysics, one of our areas of expertise within Cosmology and Astrophysics | Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
We're researching astrophysics to better understand the basic building blocks of our Universe. We're looking at the origin of stars, the formation and evolution of galaxies, and stellar population models.
Galaxies are massive collections of stars, gas, dust and dark matter, bound together by gravity. We study how galaxies form and evolve over cosmic time using stellar population modelling, and also inform cosmological surveys, which use galaxies as tracers for the structure of the Universe. Our research, much of which takes place within the University's Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, tells us about the basic physics of star formation and the content of the Universe.
Our research into galaxy evolution covers galaxies from the most local to some of the most distant objects known. We search for clues into how they developed by looking at the types of stars and the star formation histories of galaxies. Studying the elemental make up of the stars and gas in a galaxy reveals orbital dynamics – either through stellar or gaseous kinematics or in a frozen snapshot in the galaxy morphology.
Our researchers are involved in leading astronomical surveys that help us map and understand galaxies and the processes within them. We use the surveys to explore what galaxies can tell us about the past, present and future of the Universe.
Astronomical surveys we're involved in:
- Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS)
- Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS)
- Mapping Nearby Galaxies at Apache Point Observatory (MaNGA)
- Galaxy Zoo project
- Galaxy Evolution group for the Dark Energy Survey (DES)
- Galaxy Working groups for Euclid
Stellar population modelling
The dark Universe is filled with dazzling galaxies, which shine in virtue of their stellar content. Stellar radiation, which reaches us from the most remote regions of the Universe, can be modelled following robust physical principles. The light emitted can be used as a probe of galaxy structure formation and evolution and as a cosmic chronometer.
Stellar population models are central to astrophysics and cosmology. We research stellar population modelling to predict and describe the evolution of galaxies.
A galaxy can contain billions of stars. The total energetics emission of a galaxy is the sum of the light from all its stars, which depends on stellar energetics, lifetimes and the stellar initial mass function. It also depends on parameters that are specific to the different galaxies such as history of star formation, chemical composition and dust content.
Researchers at our Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, Prof Claudia Maraston and Prof Daniel Thomas, are world leaders in the field of stellar population modelling. Their recent results include the calculation and analysis of models at high spectral resolution.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 407, Issue 2, pp. 830-845. (2010), Claudia Maraston, Janine Pforr, Alvio Renzini, Emanuele Daddi, Mark Dickinson, Andrea Cimatti, Chiara Tonini
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 432, Issue 1, p.359-373 (2013), Rita Tojeiro, Karen L. Masters, Joshua Richards, Will J. Percival, Steven P. Bamford, Claudia Maraston, Robert C. Nichol, Ramin Skibba, Daniel Thomas
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 424, Issue 3, pp. 2180-2192 (2012), Karen L. Masters, Robert C. Nichol, Martha P. Haynes, William C. Keel, Chris Lintott, Brooke Simmons, Ramin Skibba, Steven Bamford, Riccardo Giovanelli, Kevin Schawinski
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 418, Issue 2, pp. 1055-1070 (2011), Karen L. Masters, Claudia Maraston, Robert C. Nichol, Daniel Thomas, Alessandra Beifiori, Kevin Bundy, Edward M. Edmondson, Tim D. Higgs, Alexie Leauthaud, Rachel Mandelbaum, Janine Pforr, Ashley J. Ross, Nicholas P. Ross, Donald P. Schneider, Ramin Skibba, Jeremy Tinker, Rita Tojeiro, David Wake, Jon Brinkmann, Benjamin A. Weaver
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 435, Issue 4, p.2764-2792 (2013), Claudia Maraston, Janine Pforr, Bruno M. Henriques, Daniel Thomas, David Wake, Joel R. Brownstein, Diego Capozzi, Jeremy Tinker, Kevin Bundy, Ramin A. Skibba, et al.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 407, Issue 2, pp. 830-845, Claudia Maraston, Janine Pforr, Alvio Renzini, Emanuale Daddi , Mark Dickinson, Andrea Cimatti, Chiara Tonini
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 434, Issue 1, p.296-312 (2013), L.J.M. Davies, C. Maraston, D. Thomas, D. Capozzi, R.H. Wechsler, M.T. Busha, M. Banerji, F. Ostrovski, C. Papovich, B.X. Santiago, R. Nichol, M.A.G. Maia, L.N. da Costa
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 431, Issue 2, p.1383-1397 (2013), D. Thomas, O. Steele, C. Maraston, J. Johansson , A. Beifiori, J. Pforr, G. Strombaeck, C.A. Tremonti, D. Wake, D. Bizyaev, A. Bolton, H. Brewington, J.R. Brownstein, J. Comparat, J.P. Kneib, E. Malanushenko, V. Malanushenko, D. Oravetz, K. Pan, J.K. Parejko, D. P. Schneider, A. Shelden, A. Simmons, S. Snedden, M. Tanaka , B.A. Weaver, R. Yan
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 421, Issue 3, pp. 1908-1926 (2012), Jonas Johansson, Daniel Thomas, Claudia Maraston
Dynamical masses of early-type galaxies: a comparison to lensing results and implications for the stellar initial mass function and the distribution of dark matter
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 415, Issue 1, pp. 545-562 (2011), J. Thomas, R. P. Saglia, R. Bender, D. Thomas, K. Gebhardt, J. Magorrian, E. M. Corsini, G. Wegner, S. Seitz
We're exploring the inflation of the very early Universe, the impact of dark energy on its geometry and developing tests to monitor its expansion.
We're detecting cosmic gravitational waves and developing gravitational-wave observations as an astronomical tool.
We're studying supernovae and the appearance of distance between Earth and galaxies, and measuring the positions of large-scale structures in the Universe.
Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation
Researchers at our Institute of Cosmology & Gravitation explore the evolution of our Universe and aim to inspire the next generation of scientists.
Applied Physics Research Group
We're exploring research in quantum information technologies, quantum optics and quantum foundations and applied advanced materials.