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Department of Physics

Astronomy

Section web pages: http://astro.dur.ac.uk/

Section Head: Professor David Alexander

We are one of the UK's leading centres for astronomical research with world-class groups working in a wide range of fields covering the observational, theoretical and instrumentation aspects of astronomy.

  • Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology Observational studies of the formation and evolution of galaxies, black holes and active galactic nuclei, the evolution of larger-scale structures in the universe and tests of cosmological theories. The observational programme makes extensive use of a wide range of facilities including the largest optical, infra-red and submillimetre telescopes, radio arrays and space-based observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the Herschel Space Observatory and the Chandra and XMM- Newton X-ray satellites. We have close links to the activities in both the Institute for Computational Cosmology and the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation.
  • Institute for Computational Cosmology The theoretical programme based within the Institute is focussed on numerical studies of galaxy formation, large- structure and the nature of the cosmic dark matter. To support this programme the Institute operates a wide-range of high-performance supercomputer facilities.
  • High Energy Astrophysics The high-energy research involves gamma ray, X-ray, and cosmic ray astronomy. The gamma-ray group is actively participating in the development of the next generation of ground-based gamma ray observatories: gamma rays (>300 GeV) are studied using the atmospheric Cerenkov radiation technique. The X-ray astronomy group study the emission from accreting black holes, both the stellar mass black holes found in nearby galaxies and the super-massive black holes that are found in all massive galaxies in the Universe. The cosmic ray group study the origin of high energy cosmic rays and their propagation through the Galaxy and in intergalactic space.