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Institute of Astronomy



My research aims to test fundamental physics using large cosmological datasets, including the cosmic microwave background (CMB) and galaxy surveys, using an interdisciplinary approach combining observations, theoretical physics, and advanced statistical and machine learning methods. I am increasingly engaged in the interface between cosmology and galaxy evolution, and in gravitational wave astrophysics. I also enjoy thinking about stellar dynamics and the structure of the Milky Way. More broadly beyond astrophysics, my research involves interdisciplinary collaborations at the interface of cosmology with particle physics and condensed matter physics.

I am the Principal Investigator of the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant project CosmicExplorer. I am theory lead in the Quantum Simulators for Fundamental Physics (QSimFP) Consortium, funded by UKRI’s Quantum Technologies for Fundamental Physics programme. I am a founding member of ALPHA, an international collaboration working to deploy a plasma haloscope to detect the QCD axion, a prime dark matter candidate. I am part of several international research projects on multimessenger astrophysics and cosmology with gravitational wave sources and their electromagnetic counterparts.

From 2001-2006 I was a member of the WMAP Collaboration. The cosmic microwave background (CMB) data from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) formed the foundation for the era of precision cosmology, and dramatically improved our understanding of the basic characteristics of the Universe (its contents, history, expansion rate and eventual fate).

From 2009-2019 I was a member of the Planck CollaborationPlanck, an ESA satellite, was the successor to WMAP and mapped the primordial fluctuations with exquisite precision. From 2013-2018 I was the Principal Investigator of the ERC CosmicDawn project, which yielded insights into the physics of the primordial Universe.

My main current survey collaboration is the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST), to be conducted at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory currently under construction in Chile with first light expected in 2024. This next generation galaxy survey will yield deep insights into the evolution of the Universe and its underlying physics.  


Hiranya Peiris holds the Professorship of Astrophysics (1909) at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge. She is a Professorial Fellow at Murray Edwards College. She is a member of the Kavli Insittute for Cosmology, Cambridge. 

After obtaining her undergraduate degree at Cambridge (1998), where she was a member of New Hall, Hiranya completed her PhD at Princeton (2003). She was a Hubble Fellow at Chicago (2004-2007) before returning to Cambridge as a STFC Halliday Fellow (2007). She was then appointed to a lectureship (2009) and Professorship (2015) at UCL. She was Director of the Oskar Klein Centre in Stockholm (2016-2022) and Director of the UCL Cosmoparticle Initiative (2016-2023). She holds a second affiliation at the Oskar Klein Centre, Stockholm University.

Hiranya served as Vice-President (Astronomy) of the Royal Astronomical Society during 2016-2018. She is currently serving as a member of STFC Council, the senior strategic advisory body of the research council that funds particle physics and astronomy in the United Kingdom.

Awards and Prizes

Hiranya's work has been recognised by awards such as the IOP Fred Hoyle Medal and Prize (2018), the Max Born Prize of the German Physical Society and the IOP (2021), and the Eddington Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (2021). Her contributions to survey cosmology have been recognised through a share of the Gruber Cosmology Prize (2012) and the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics (2018), both awarded to the WMAP Science Team. She was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 2022.

cosmology, galaxy evolution, astroparticle physics, early universe theory, Bayesian analysis and machine learning, gravitational wave astrophysics

Contact Details

Hoyle H51


Murray Edwards College