Astrophysics research at Herts receives £3 million funding boost

 30 November 2023 30 November 2023
30 November 2023

The University of Hertfordshire’s Centre for Astrophysics Research (CAR) has been awarded a grant of just over £3 million from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), powering ambitious new research over the next three years.

The funding will enable CAR researchers to pursue eight additional projects, covering the cost of new equipment, the hiring of post-doctoral researchers and other logistical costs.

The planned projects will address a broad range of key scientific questions across astrophysics, including eruptive young stellar objects, ultraluminous X-ray pulsars, dwarf galaxies, simulations of chemical reactions in the Milky Way, and black holes. Featuring a mix of observational and theoretical investigations, upcoming studies include:

  • Professor Sugata Kaviraj and his research group will use data from state-of-the-art observational surveys, like the Hyper Suprime-Cam Subaru Strategic Program and the Legacy Survey of Space and Time, to understand how galaxies evolve over the lifetime of the Universe. In particular, they will – for the first time - probe key constituents of the Universe that were invisible in past surveys, such as low-mass ('dwarf') galaxies and the tidal debris that splashes out as a result of mergers between galaxies. The findings will help scientists understand the key physical processes that have shaped the evolution of the Universe over cosmic time.
  • Professor Martin Hardcastle is leading research into the energy that massive black holes at the centres of galaxies inject into their environments. Together with Dr Jonathan Pierce, he aims to establish whether they are the reason that galaxies do not grow any larger, using radio telescope observations to test the theory.

Other studies will also be led by Dr William Alston, Dr Mykola Gordovskyy, Professor Chiaki Kobayashi, Professor Philip Lucas, Dr Daniel Smith and Dr Dominic Walton.

Kristen Coppin, Professor ofAstrophysics and Director of the Centre for Astrophysics Research, said:

“Our academics have a fantastic track record for research which expands our understanding of the universe. This funding means we can continue this important work with additional staff and resources behind us. I am delighted the STFC have recognised us in this way, and I look forward to seeing the results over the next three years”.

The STFC is the main source of funding for astrophysics research groups in UK higher education institutions, and has recently supported research at Herts using the James Webb Space Telescope to explore distant galaxies and exoplanetary atmospheres, the origins of quasars, and the origin of the elements.

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