Institute of Astronomy

Research at the Institute

Cosmology and Fundamental Physics

Research interests in Cosmology and Fundamental physics at the Institute cover a wide array  of physical phenomena, spanning a large  range of astrophysical scales and epochs - from the present day properties of the Universe going back in time to the surface of  last scattering and the era of Inflation.

Galaxies, Active Galactic Nuclei and Quasars

Galaxy formation and evolution research at the Institute covers galaxies, quasars and the inter-galactic medium in the local volume out to the highest redshifts possible using observations over most of the electro-magnetic spectrum. The research is primarily observationally driven and we make use of many international ground- and space-based telescopes.

Instrumentation, Surveys and Projects

IoA is involved in instrumentation and surveys in the optical and infrared. Instrumentation projects include Super-sharp which is the development of unfolding space telescopes and Lucky Imaging which uses high speed CCDs to remove effects of the atmosphere.

Space missions include Planck and GAIA and ground based surveys include the Vista Hemisphere Survey (VHS) and the Local Volume Legacy Survey (LVL).

Milky Way and Local Group Stars

Our research interests span the planetary to Local Group scales, including dark matter, dwarf galaxies, the Milky Way, star clusters, cool stars, exo-planets, massive stars and supernovae.  We make use of a variety of theoretical and observational tools, and many international ground- and space-based telescopes. 

Star Formation and Exoplanets

Many researchers at the Institute of Astronomy study the formation and subsequent evolution of stars and their planetary systems (including our own Solar System). Much of this work is undertaken from a theoretical perspective, using both analytical and numerical methods. Observational studies, using optical, mid-infrared, and sub-mm facilities, are also respresented, such as the search for extrasolar planets, and surveys for and imaging of debris disks.

Stars and Stellar Evolution

Research into stellar evolution encompasses all aspects of stellar evolution but the main themes currently are: binary stars, magnetic fields, stellar winds, supernova progenitors, progenitors of gamma-ray bursts, spectral synthesis of resolved and unresolved stellar populations and asymptotic-giant branch stars. Research is primarily theoretical in nature and includes the novel and versatile Cambridge STARS code to produce stellar models to study these phenomena.

X-ray Astrophysics

The research of the Cambridge X-ray Astronomy group focuses on active galaxies, clusters of galaxies, ultraluminous X-ray sources , galactic black holes, neutron stars and the X-ray background. The group uses data from multiple wavelengths from radio through to X-ray as well as theoretical models to study these systems.