A programme of astronomy at the University of Hertfordshire

Lead Research Organisation: University of Hertfordshire
Department Name: Science and Technology RI

Abstract

This application is to support the programme of research at The Centre for Astrophysics Research (CAR) at the University of Hertfordshire. The research includes: - conducting follow-up observations of gamma-ray bursts, the most violent events in the Universe, detected by the Swift space mission, so as to better understand the nature and origin of these remarkable events. We will also use the huge luminosity of GRBs to study the distant regions of the universe where we find them; - understanding the formation and evolution of massive galaxies and the role of submillimetre-luminous galaxies in the early universe; - investigating the nature of a new class of star clusters found in the Milky Way's near neighbour, the Andromeda Galaxy. Why no similar clusters exist in the Milky Way is a mystery, and may be telling us that the two galaxies evolved in different ways. We also plan to use our observations of these and other clusters to investigate the properties of so-called 'dark matter', which astronomers think makes up about 90% of the universe but which seems to be completely invisible; - to understand how the centres of active galaxies are fuelled, i.e. those where the energy produced is far more than can be produced by stars, and is most likely from accretion on to a massive black hole; - to determine the structure of active galactic nuclei and to understand why there is such a wide range of radio powers associated with active galaxies; - to determine what are the sufficient and necessary conditions for star formation to commence by studying the star formation process in nearby galaxies at scales of the local Jeans length, and to tie this in with star formation at large look-back times; - understand the energetics of the violent interstellar medium, notably the feedback cycle which links massive star formation to the surrounding medium, and it's impact on the disk-halo interface (ranging from setting up localised blow-out of gas to creating galactic winds, and the subsequent enrichment of the intergalactic medium); - to search for and identify all the massive star-forming regions in our Galaxy and from them learn how massive stars are formed; - to measure the energy distribution at optical and infrared wavelengths for extra-solar planets found close to their parent stars, these will give vital insights into the composition, formation and evolution of giant planets; - to understand the occurrence, formation history and properties of 'failed stars' known as brown dwarfs; - to understand the process of mass loss in evolved stars; this matter returns to the interstellar medium and eventually forms new stars; - using spectra to measure the composition of the oldest known stars in order to determine what types of stars were the first to form after the big bang; - a proposal to construct a new optical imaging camera to be used as a visitor instrument on the WHT, which will allow, among many other collaborative applications, a study of the morphology of massive star formation in galaxies; - the CAR has built a polarimeter (PlanetPol) with sufficiently high sensitivity to detect the polarization signature of the so-called hot-Jupiters (extrasolar planets with a size similar to that of Jupiter but in an orbit very close to the star).

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description JCMT Nearby Galaxies Legacy Survey 
Organisation Leiden University
Department Leiden Observatory
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution participated in drafting the proposal; participated in the observations; participated in drafting the science papers
Collaborator Contribution participated in drafting the proposal; participated in the observations; participated in drafting the science papers
Impact See Wilson et al. MNRAS (2012) 424 (4): 3050-3080. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.21453.x and references therein.
 
Description JCMT Nearby Galaxies Legacy Survey 
Organisation McMaster University
Department Department of Physics & Astronomy
Country Canada 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution participated in drafting the proposal; participated in the observations; participated in drafting the science papers
Collaborator Contribution participated in drafting the proposal; participated in the observations; participated in drafting the science papers
Impact See Wilson et al. MNRAS (2012) 424 (4): 3050-3080. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.21453.x and references therein.
 
Description JCMT Nearby Galaxies Legacy Survey 
Organisation Open University
Department School of Physical Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution participated in drafting the proposal; participated in the observations; participated in drafting the science papers
Collaborator Contribution participated in drafting the proposal; participated in the observations; participated in drafting the science papers
Impact See Wilson et al. MNRAS (2012) 424 (4): 3050-3080. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.21453.x and references therein.
 
Description Polarimetry for CanariCam 
Organisation University of Florida
Department Department of Physics
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Design and scientific justification for adding polarimetry to CanariCam, a mid-IR imager for GranTecan.
Collaborator Contribution Provided the imager/spectrometer
Impact Guaranteed time on GranTecan telescope, resulting in publications
 
Description SHADES 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Active SHADES member - observing and scientific input
Collaborator Contribution led from Edinburgh
Impact about 5 refereed papers
 
Description THINGS, The HI Nearby Galaxy Survey 
Organisation Max Planck Society
Department Max Planck Institute for Astronomy
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Co-wrote and co-led the collaboration; responsible for the observations and 33% of the calibration and reduction; involved in all science papers
Collaborator Contribution Co-wrote and co-led the collaboration; responsible for the observations of the other 66% of the calibration and reduction; involved in all science papers
Impact See The Astronomical Journal Article Compilations: http://iopscience.iop.org/1538-3881/page/THINGS
 
Description THINGS, The HI Nearby Galaxy Survey 
Organisation University of Cape Town
Department Department of Astronomy
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Co-wrote and co-led the collaboration; responsible for the observations and 33% of the calibration and reduction; involved in all science papers
Collaborator Contribution Co-wrote and co-led the collaboration; responsible for the observations of the other 66% of the calibration and reduction; involved in all science papers
Impact See The Astronomical Journal Article Compilations: http://iopscience.iop.org/1538-3881/page/THINGS
 
Description UH-Japanese polarization survey 
Organisation National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
Country Japan 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Provided the polarization modules for the near-IR survey and scientific input
Collaborator Contribution Provided the survey telescope and three-channel camera near-IR camera
Impact 2013ApJ...765L...6K 2012AAS...22052308K 2011ApJ...741...35K 2010ApJ...722L..23N 2010OLEB...40..335F 2009ApJ...692L..88F 2008AJ....136..621K 2008ApJ...677L..39H 2007PASJ...59..519N 2007PASJ...59..507S 2007PASJ...59..487K