X-ray astronomy probes some of the highest energy processes in the Universe that are powered by gravity. These include accretion onto compact objects (black holes, neutron stars, etc.), evolution and mergers of galaxy clusters and bursts of star formation in galaxies.
Studying these processes through X-ray astronomy helps us understand some of the most energetic processes in the Universe in the accretion of matter on to black holes as well as their efffects on the evolution of the galaxies in which they reside (black hole feedback) since these processes often release large fraction energies of the binding energies of galaxies. Looking at the dynamics and mergers of clusters of galaxies, we can learn about formation of the large-scale structure of the Universe and the processes that govern this.
Research in Cambridge combines observations of major X-ray observatories (including XMM-Newton, Chandra and NuSTAR) with multiwavelength observations and theoretical modelling to understand the physics of such high-energy processes. We are also actively involved in the planning of future missions such as the Astro-H mission due to launch in February 2016.
A major area of research in X-ray astronomy is the accretion of matter on to black holes and neutron stars in the context of AGN and galactic X-ray binaries. Accretion is an energetic process and can give high luminosities.
Clusters of galaxies are the largest objects in the Universe that are held together by their own gravity, and provide great tools for studying the processes that govern AGN feedback.