Survey Cosmology

Lead Research Organisation: University of Portsmouth
Department Name: Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation

Abstract

This rolling grant is to support the new observational cosmology group at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) at the University of Portsmouth. The ICG was only formed in 2002 but has seen rapid growth, driven by strategic investments by the university and funding agencies in the UK and Europe. In total, the ICG now has 10 staff members, 11 postdoctoral researchers, and 17 PhD students from around the world, working on both theoretical and observational cosmology. Cosmology is experiencing a golden age of discovery driven by new advances in technology and theory. However, we are still facing two fundamental challenges before a complete theory of the Universe can be achieved: i) What are the properties of the dark matter and dark energy that make up 96% of the Universe, and ii) how do galaxies - the 'building blocks' of the Universe - form and evolve? This rolling grant will address both these problems through the use of new, massive surveys of the sky. For example, we will use a new 520-megapixel camera on the Blanco 4-meter telescope in Chile to digitally image the southern sky. This survey - known as the Dark Energy Survey (DES) - will allow us to measure the clustering of galaxies to high precision, detect the weak gravitational lensing of distant galaxies by the foreground dark matter, and discover thousands of distant supernovae (exploding stars). Taken together with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and other data, we expect to measure the density of dark energy over 70% the age of the Universe. This will tell us if it is just a constant, as first proposed by Einstein, or something more exotic like quintessence, phantom energy or extra dimensions! This data will also shed light on the properties of dark matter, which we can 'see' via gravity but does not shine like normal matter. In addition to new optical cameras, we plan to harness the power of the next generation of radio telescopes that are being built. The first of these is LOFAR, which will have base stations spread across Europe forming an effective radio telescope over 600 kilometers in size. We will use LOFAR, in conjunction with new data from the SDSS, to study the effects of supermassive black holes on the evolution of elliptical galaxies. The energetic outflows from these black holes has been proposed as a way to slowing down the growth of such galaxies, making them 'red and dead' today. Likewise, we will study the properties of disk galaxies with cosmic time and location to determine what is encouraging them to form new stars today. Together, these studies will help us determine the important physics that drive galaxy evolution. In addition to research, the ICG staff are dedicated to publishing their data to the world. We plan to continue this work by providing the scientific community with access to state-of-the-art data archives using the latest web-services technology. The ICG staff are also committed to public outreach and have been engaged in a number of visible activities in the media and local schools. For example, our students and postdocs have visited local schools to discuss their careers and express the fun of doing research. Finally, the ICG is a close-knit community that provides a strong support infrastructure for the training and mentoring of students and faculty alike.

Publications

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Abazajian K (2009) THE SEVENTH DATA RELEASE OF THE SLOAN DIGITAL SKY SURVEY in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series

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Adelman-McCarthy Jennifer K. (2008) The Sixth Data Release of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey in ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL SUPPLEMENT SERIES

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Bacon D (2009) Twist and turn: weak lensing image distortions to second order in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Bacon D (2010) Measuring dark matter substructure with galaxy-galaxy flexion statistics Galaxy-galaxy flexion statistics in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Baldry I (2010) Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA): the input catalogue and star-galaxy separation in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Bamford S (2009) Galaxy Zoo: the dependence of morphology and colour on environment in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

 
Description Research at the ICG has helped understand the formation and evolution of the universe. This information is important to advance our understand of fundamental physics as well as being of great interest and fascination by the general public.
Exploitation Route Research at ICG is published in peer-reviewed journals and have received significant citations over the last decade. Researchers at the ICG are some of the highest cited astrophysicists and cosmologists in the UK, showing their work is used and influential (mainly by other academics in our field of research)
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.icg.port.ac.uk
 
Description Research at the ICG has helped understand the formation and evolution of the universe. This information is important to advance our understand of fundamental physics as well as being of great interest and fascination by the general public.
First Year Of Impact 2008
Sector Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Continuing STFC Rolling Grant ("Survey Cosmology & Astrophysics")
Amount £982,364 (GBP)
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2011 
End 04/2016
 
Description DES 
Organisation Dark Energy Survey (DES)
Country Global 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Scientific leadership and guidance, preparation of scientific simulations and preparations, organisation of meetings and events
Collaborator Contribution Access to proprietary data and scientific collaboration
Impact Scientific publications (see publication list)
Start Year 2006
 
Description Euclid Consortium 
Organisation UK Space Agency
Department Euclid Consortium
Country France 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Scientific and collaboration leadership. Help with design of weak lensing science requirements, scientific coordination of the mission and design of the Euclid deep field
Collaborator Contribution Involvement in the design and possible construction of the Euclid satellite mission which is one of three concepts being studied by ESA and the UK space agency.
Impact Involvement in many aspects of the Euclid design and management. Involvement in the drafting of the Euclid "Yellow Book". Some funding from the UK Space Agency.
Start Year 2008
 
Description LOFAR 
Organisation LOFAR
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Scientific and technical assistance with the funding and installation of a LOFAR antenna array at Chilbolton. Scientific leadership in the use of LOFAR-UK and LOFAR in general
Collaborator Contribution Access to proprietary data and UK LOFAR array at Chilbolton.
Impact See publications
Start Year 2008
 
Description SDSS 
Organisation Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-III)
Department Astrophysical Research Council
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have collaborated on research including catalogue preparation, database hosting, documentation and SDSS outreach & public understanding
Collaborator Contribution Access to unique proprietary data
Impact Many peer-reviewed academic publications (see list of publications)
Start Year 2006
 
Description Astronomical Societies 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Many of the co-I's have given public talks at both local astronomy societies (South Downs, Eastbourne, Isle of Wight, Southampton, Hampshire, Farnham, Worthing, Guildford etc.) and national astronomical society meetings (BAA, SPA).

Increased awareness of Portsmouth research across the region
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016
 
Description Big Screens 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Members of the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation and the School of Creative Technologies at the University of Portsmouth teamed together to produce five short videos for the BBC Big Screen for National Science and Engineering Week. The videos take viewers on a journey which begins in planet Earth, through the Solar System, the MilkyWay and beyond, to the edge of the visible Universe. These videos are displayed on 17 big screens (in public areas) around the country and are seen by many thousands of passer-bys

Awareness of research, portsmouth and astronomy
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Galaxy Zoo 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Members of the public are asked to classify images of galaxies on www.galaxyzoo.org to contribute to astronomical research, resulting in nearly 50 peer reviewed publications to date.

Galaxy Zoo has produced a unique database that could not have been obtained without the involvement of the public; visual classifications for over a million galaxies. This database has significant scientific value for astronomy as well as other subjects (computer vision). The public have also been involved in the scientific process and via webblogs and forums, have learnt about the science of GalaxyZoo, as well as being involved.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016
URL http://www.galaxyzoo.org
 
Description Google Tours 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Via a grant from Google, the ICG is leading in the development of an interface between Google Earth and Galaxy Zoo, which includes creating ``Google Tours" for the public.

Awareness of Portsmouth research and astronomy
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Knowledge Transfer 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Staff at ICG are involved in inter-disciplinary research activities with other science and research domains at Portsmouth or beyond. For example, we present run a 100-core supercomputer with 20% shared time for other scientists at the University of Portsmouth (Mechanical Engineering, Computing, etc). In the past, we have also co-supervised PhD and MSc students in Computing and developed common courses.

Exploiting cross-disciplinary resources and transfer of skills and techniques to other domains
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010,2011
 
Description Media exposure 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Many of our staff are involved in interviews with local, national and international radio stations, TV stations and newspapers. We have frequent articles in the Portsmouth News, many interviews on BBC Radio Solent, BBC Three Counties and Express FM, and we have been featured on the local ITV Meridian and BBS South News. Nationally, our staff are featured in magazines (e.g., Astronomy Now) and newspaper articles, as well as being guests on the BBC ``Sky at Night" and "Horizon" programmes discussing their research. Internationally, staff have been featured in both USA and European TV and radio outlets.

Public awareness of astronomy and scientific research.We will continue to offer all staff and postdocs professional media training, organised by the media office at the University, at the ICG expense
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010,2011
 
Description Outreach leadership 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact At the ICG, two of our staff are the official spokesperson for the SDSS and LOFAR-UK projects. These staff are responsible for organising media and public events, including drafting press releases, providing media interviews and liaising with media companies (TV stations, newspapers, magazines and online news outlets).

Raised awareness of Portsmouth in the media and public eyes. Increased exposure of astronomy in media as help news outlets to obtain high quality material and interviews
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010,2011
 
Description Popular talks 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Over the rolling grant, the co-I's have given numerous popular talks to various organisations, e.g. Cafe Scientifique presentations across the south coast (Portsmouth, Southampton, Brighton, Eastbourne), talks at the Intech Science Center (Winchester), Merseyside Astronomy Day, and the Brighton Peace Festival.

Awareness of research at Portsmouth and increased appreciation for astronomy and cosmology
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010,2011
 
Description STEMNet Ambassadors 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact www.stemnet.org.uk

Improve science understanding in schools and society by providing a national network of scientists available for outreach activity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010,2011
 
Description School visits 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact During the rolling grant, many of the co-I's have made visits to local schools to discuss their research and astronomy. Schools include Elm Grove Primary School, West Park School (Worthing), Bitterne Park School (Southampton), Portsmouth Girls' High, King Richard High, Medina High School (Isle of Wight) Sandown High School (Isle of Wight) and Portsmouth Grammar School

Raise awareness of research at Portsmouth and help with science syllabus teaching at both primary and secondary education levels e.g. we gave a masterclass in cosmology (one of the GCSE modules) at the Portsmouth Grammar School at their request.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010,2011
 
Description Stargazing 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Staff and researchers at the ICG have begun public stargazing sessions for the public at the nearby GunWhark Quays shopping center. These informal sessions were started by the postdoctoral researchers and allow the public to look through a telescope in a relaxed environment.

Increased public awareness of astronomy and has generated considerable local interest and media attention
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011
 
Description Webpages 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact www.sdss3.org

Public awareness of astronomy and research at Portsmouth. These sites are also essential for coordinating material for press releases and have helped generate news stories in mainstream media (TV, papers, magazines)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010,2011
 
Description Work Experience 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Over the rolling grant period, we have taken students from across europe for work experience and training. We have provided projects for french students, as part of their undergraduate degrees, and hosted students from Petersfield School and Portsmouth Grammar School (PGS) on Nuffield Summer Bursaries for several years running.

Hands-on experience of research and the research environment. Promoting young people to pursue a career in science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010