We have international programmes of observational, theoretical, laboratory-based and mission-based astronomy research, focusing on all four of the key science questions of European astronomy and aligned with the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) science challenges:
- Do we understand the extremes of the Universe?
- How do galaxies form and evolve?
- What is the origin and evolution of stars and planets?
- How do we fit in?
Each year we advertise typically 10 defined research projects and expect to recruit full-time postgraduate students to typically 3-5 of those projects, on fully funded studentships (providing fees and stipend). Part-time, self-funded postgraduate students on self-defined projects are only appointed in exceptional circumstances, where the projects closely match the interests and activities of staff members.
Astronomy is one of five research disciplines within the School of Physical Sciences, and has close links with Planetary and Space Sciences and with The Centre for Electronic Imaging.
We have leading roles in many major international projects and facilities, including JCMT Legacy Surveys, Herschel and Planck and LSST. We run the OpenScience Observatories, a collection of telescopes and other instruments on Mount Teide, Tenerife. The Astronomy Discipline is also a member of the UK SALT Consortium, which owns a 5 per cent share in the 11-metre Southern African Large Telescope. We are a partner in the SuperWASP consortium that operates two robotic sky-patrol camera systems (one in La Palma, one at Sutherland Observatory, South Africa). We are a member of the UK LOFAR consortium, and have important roles on the UK LSST board. We are co-investigators on the forthcoming ESA Euclid space telescope and have involvement with the forthcoming ESA PLATO and ESA ARIEL space telescopes. We use many international facilities, from ground-based observatories (e.g. ALMA, AAO, ESO) to space telescopes (HST, Spitzer, STEREO), and are involved in the planning and preparation for future international facilities and proposals (e.g. FLARE, SPICA, E-ELT, POLLUX).
Observational studies are complemented by state-of-the-art laboratories in astrochemistry which are integrated with European and US astrochemistry and planetary science laboratory networks. We lead the Europlanet Consortium, a €10 million European research infrastructure. We are also a partner institution in the South East Physics Network (SEPnet), ensuring both a coordinated training plan for postgraduate students and rapid dissemination of their research findings to a very broad community.
All this research exploits the University’s IMPACT computing cluster for data analysis and modelling.