Institute of Astronomy

Galaxy Formation/Evolution

Giant black holes found lurking in survey data

Published on 10/10/2012 

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have used cutting-edge infrared surveys of the sky to discover a new population of enormous, rapidly growing supermassive black holes in the early Universe. The black holes were previously undetected because they sit cocooned within thick layers of dust. The new study has shown however that they are emitting vast amounts of radiation through violent interactions with their host galaxies. The team will publish their results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Hubble Goes to the eXtreme to Assemble Farthest Ever View of the Universe

Published on 25/09/2012 

Like photographers assembling a portfolio of best shots, astronomers have assembled a new, improved portrait of humanity's deepest-ever view of the universe.

Called the eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF, the photo was assembled by combining 10 years of NASA Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken of a patch of sky at the centre of the original Hubble Ultra Deep Field. The XDF is a small fraction of the angular diameter of the full Moon.

Dark Galaxies of the Early Universe Spotted for the First Time

Published on 11/07/2012 

For the first time, dark galaxies — an early phase of galaxy formation, predicted by theory but unobserved until now — may have been spotted. These objects are essentially gas-rich galaxies without stars. Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, an international team thinks they have detected these elusive objects by observing them glowing as they are illuminated by a quasar.

Gravitational Waves

Gravitational Waves are ripples in the curvature of spacetime as predicted by Einstein in his theory of General Relativity. Sources include compact binaries, spinning non-axisymmetric objects and supernovae.

High Redshift Galaxies

By studying high redshift galaxies, we can learn about the evolution of galaxies throughout the history of the Universe.

Galaxy Clusters

Galaxy clusters are the largest virialized objects in the Universe and are very sensitive probes of the underlying cosmological framework.

Galaxy Formation

Galaxies provide us with valuable clues on the large scale properties of the Universe in which they are embedded. Equally important, they tell us about the physical processes which are responsible for star formation

Cosmic Reionisation

During the epoch of reionization the first stars and black holes in the Universe (re-) ionized the Intergalactic Medium. Studying the epoch of reionization will tell us about the first galaxies.

First Quasars

Observations of nearby galaxies and high-redshift quasars suggest that  black holes are present in  the majority of galaxies. The first quasars harbor already black holes as massive as several billion solar masses.

Forming Supermassive Black Holes

Black holes are among the most fascinating phenomena thought to exist in the Universe. A black hole is a region of space in which the gravitational field is so powerful that nothing, not even light, can normally escape.