Solar system

Our cosmology and astrophysics research

Theoretical cosmology, gravitational waves, observational cosmology and astrophysics 

Cosmology is the study of the Universe as a whole: its origin and evolution. Our work is driven by curiosity to understand the cosmos we see around us today. We want to understand the fundamental physical laws at work, including gravity and the nature of spacetime, and how these laws of nature play out in the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies.

Modern cosmology and astrophysics are also driven by technological advances which enable us to see ever further out into the Universe and with greater detail and precision. By looking deeper into the Universe we can test the laws of physics in regimes not accessible in experiments on Earth. Astrophysicists have found evidence for black holes, dark matter and dark energy in the Universe that will shape future scientific advances. By probing the origin of structure in the very early universe, we're testing ideas about quantum gravity.

We build physical and analytical models of astrophysical systems, carry out detailed numerical simulations and apply data analysis to make quantitative statistical inferences. We're also innovating by developing advanced techniques in data science, analysis and inference, for astrophysical, medical and societal applications. Much of our work takes place within the University's Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation.

Our programme of outreach and public engagement seeks to inspire the next generation of scientists through working with local schools, events and citizen science projects.

Cosmology graduates have gone on to apply the problem-solving skills they develop in cosmology and astrophysics in careers including data science, finance, defence systems and biological modelling.

Header image credit: NASA Goddard

Our Cosmology and Astrophysics areas of expertise

Astrophysics

We're working to better understand the basic building blocks of our Universe, the origin of stars, the formation and evolution of galaxies, and stellar population models. Explore our astrophysics research

Spiral Galaxy
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Gravitational waves

We're detecting cosmic gravitational waves and developing gravitational-wave observations as an astronomical tool.

Illustration of 2 merging black holes and the gravitational waves that ripple outward
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Observational Cosmology

We're mapping the Universe on the largest scales to understand dark energy, studying the clustering of galaxies and dark matter, and observing transient events and supernovae.

Nebulas and stars
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Theoretical cosmology

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.

galaxy space
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Interested in a PhD in Cosmology and Astrophysics?

Explore our Cosmology and Astrophysics postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils.

Research groups

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. 

galaxy space
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Applied Physics Research Group

We're exploring research in quantum information technologies, quantum optics and quantum foundations and applied advanced materials.

Close up of Molecular Beam Epitaxy system
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Satellites orbiting

Portsmouth’s space mission design facility used to help tackle space debris

16 April 2024

Portsmouth’s space mission design facility used to help tackle space debris
A black and white image of the moon

UK Space Agency funding boost for Moon-orbiting satellite

5 April 2024

UK Space Agency funding boost for Moon-orbiting satellite
DESI has made the largest 3D map of our universe to date

Scientists announce the most precise measurement of our expanding universe to date

4 April 2024

Scientists announce the most precise measurement of our expanding universe to date
Lasers fired between the satellites, shown in this artist's concept, will measure how gravitational waves alter their relative distances.

ESA gives go-ahead for flagship gravitational-wave observatory in space

26 January 2024

ESA gives go-ahead for flagship gravitational-wave observatory in space
Thousands of galaxies taken from the James Webb Space Telescope

Scientist wins award for research into early galaxies

18 January 2024

Scientist wins award for research into early galaxies