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Astronomy

We have international programmes of observational, theoretical, laboratory based and mission based astronomy research, focussing on all four of the key science questions of European astronomy and supported by STFC.

  • 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?

The Astronomy Discipline is a member of the UK SALT Consortium, and operates the OpenScience Observatories.

The OU leads the Dispersed Matter Planet Project which is discovering rocky exoplanets orbiting bright nearby stars, while our laboratory work addresses how small particles aggregate to form planets. We study the most massive stars in our Galaxy and beyond, and examine the physics underlying stellar variability through large-scale archive studies and rapid response OpenScience Observatory observations of transient alerts from Gaia and gravitational wave detections. The composition and energetics of jets in active galaxies is a new focus for the group and allows the effect of jets on galaxy evolution to be examined. Members of our group are part of the guaranteed time consortia of the Japanese AKARI infrared survey mission and the Herschel SPIRE instrument. We coordinate an EU Network in Astrobiology and act as co-investigators in the future Japan/ESA SPICA mission and the UK LOFAR Consortium.

Astronomy Research at the Open University has been built around two over-arching themes: The Compositional Universe and Time Domain Astrophysics. Rapid advances in telescopes and instrumentation permit ever-finer spectral and temporal resolution opening previously inaccessible regimes to direct empirical study. Our two themes exploit this.

Our individual astronomy research areas each fit within these two themes, with about half of our research lying at their intersection. We also apply our expertise to problems outside astronomy, and we are world-leading providers of Astronomy Education. More details about our work is given under the various astronomy sub-groupings listed on the right.