Extragalactic Astronomy at the University of Hertfordshire

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

Abstract

The Extragalactic Astronomy programme at the University of Hertfordshire has the aim of answering some of the most important outstanding questions about how galaxies and supermassive black holes in our Universe have evolved from the Big Bang to the present day, and about the violent physical processes that influence this evolution, including jets from black holes and the collapse of massive stars. Our research makes use of observations from all of the main European and international astronomical observatories, including ground-based observatories at optical, radio and submillimetre wavelengths, and space observatories at wavelengths ranging from the far infrared to gamma rays. We also use theoretical modelling and computer simulations to obtain a better understanding of the physical processes detected in our observations. We are heavily involved in planned key science programmes with many of the most exciting forthcoming observational facilities, including the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR), Herschel (a far-infrared space observatory), GLAST (a space-based telescope probing a new region of the gamma-ray spectrum, to be launched this year), and the UK's next generation radio observatory, e-MERLIN. Our research in extragalactic astronomy covers three broad themes: star formation in the nearby Universe, the evolution of galaxies and activity over cosmic time, and high-energy astrophysics. Below is a brief description of our research in each of these areas. In the nearby Universe it is possible to carry out very detailed studies of how stars form and evolve in different environments, from small dwarf galaxies to the very outer regions of galaxies like our own. Our research uses multiwavelength observations to study in detail the gas content of galaxies, which provides the material for star formation, and to link this to stellar populations and the locations of star formation in the full range of local galaxies. By understanding the processes that trigger star formation and its evolution in the nearby Universe, we can begin to apply this understanding to the very earliest galaxies and the formation of stars in the distant Universe. The next generation of optical, infrared and submillimetre surveys will map out these most distant galaxies, and allow us to investigate what links the processes of star formation and the growth of supermassive black holes. Members of the extragalactic group at the University of Hertfordshire are leading some of the most important surveys to study how galaxies and supermassive black holes evolved in the early Universe. We are also using detailed X-ray and radio observations to measure the energy injected by jets ejected from supermassive black holes into distant galaxies and clusters of galaxies, affecting star formation and gas properties, and having a long-term role in their evolutionary history. Finally, we carry out theoretical research to understand the physical processes that operate in jets, which are also produced during the collapse of massive stars, resulting in the energetic phenomena known as gamma-ray bursts. These processes are difficult to study because of relativistic effects resulting from the high jet speeds, which are close to the speed of light. Relativistic jets are among the most extreme objects in astrophysics, and understanding their particle composition, magnetic field properties, dynamics and energetics is essential in order to get a complete picture of star formation and of galaxy evolution.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The research supported by this grant has furthered our knowledge regarding the Universe, broadly in the area of extragalactic research. Some of the topics that led to substantial numbers of publications are, among others:

- Gamma Ray Bursts, probably the highest energy explosions in the Universe;
- Active galaxies, specifically the formation of the black holes that reside at their centres and the effects of feedback provided by those black holes on galaxy formation;
- galaxy formation across cosmic time;
- galaxy interactions;
- structure and dynamics of nearby, spatially well resolved galaxies;
- detailed studies of the star formation process in galaxies.

A range of observational techniques were used, ranging from ground-based optical and radio observations to the use of gamma-ray and X-ray satellites, and those operating in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Exploitation Route The work resulting from the above grant is primarily of interest and use to the astronomical community. Moreover, the exciting results will inspire the next generation to take up further stuy in STEMM areas.
Sectors Other

 
Description A study of X-ray absorbed QSOs 
Organisation Durham University
Department Institute for Computational Cosmology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Led paper on submillimetre environments Co-authored paper on photometric redshifts providing technical expertise and data Co-authored paper on X-ray spectroscopy Provided data and scientific input to paper on PdB interferometry
Collaborator Contribution General scientific input
Impact Coppin et al. 2008, MNRAS, 389, 45 Stevens et al. 2010, MNRAS, 405, 2623 Page et al. 2011, MNRAS, submitted Carrera et al., 2011, MNRAS, in press (1101.2757)
 
Description A study of X-ray absorbed QSOs 
Organisation Max Planck Society
Country Germany 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Led paper on submillimetre environments Co-authored paper on photometric redshifts providing technical expertise and data Co-authored paper on X-ray spectroscopy Provided data and scientific input to paper on PdB interferometry
Collaborator Contribution General scientific input
Impact Coppin et al. 2008, MNRAS, 389, 45 Stevens et al. 2010, MNRAS, 405, 2623 Page et al. 2011, MNRAS, submitted Carrera et al., 2011, MNRAS, in press (1101.2757)
 
Description A study of X-ray absorbed QSOs 
Organisation UK Astronomy Technology Centre (ATC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Led paper on submillimetre environments Co-authored paper on photometric redshifts providing technical expertise and data Co-authored paper on X-ray spectroscopy Provided data and scientific input to paper on PdB interferometry
Collaborator Contribution General scientific input
Impact Coppin et al. 2008, MNRAS, 389, 45 Stevens et al. 2010, MNRAS, 405, 2623 Page et al. 2011, MNRAS, submitted Carrera et al., 2011, MNRAS, in press (1101.2757)
 
Description A study of X-ray absorbed QSOs 
Organisation University College London
Department Department of Space and Climate Physics (MSSL)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Led paper on submillimetre environments Co-authored paper on photometric redshifts providing technical expertise and data Co-authored paper on X-ray spectroscopy Provided data and scientific input to paper on PdB interferometry
Collaborator Contribution General scientific input
Impact Coppin et al. 2008, MNRAS, 389, 45 Stevens et al. 2010, MNRAS, 405, 2623 Page et al. 2011, MNRAS, submitted Carrera et al., 2011, MNRAS, in press (1101.2757)
 
Description A study of X-ray absorbed QSOs 
Organisation University of Cantabria
Department Institute of Physics
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Led paper on submillimetre environments Co-authored paper on photometric redshifts providing technical expertise and data Co-authored paper on X-ray spectroscopy Provided data and scientific input to paper on PdB interferometry
Collaborator Contribution General scientific input
Impact Coppin et al. 2008, MNRAS, 389, 45 Stevens et al. 2010, MNRAS, 405, 2623 Page et al. 2011, MNRAS, submitted Carrera et al., 2011, MNRAS, in press (1101.2757)
 
Description A study of redshift 1 AGN 
Organisation California Institute of Technology
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Leading the collaboration. PIs of Spitzer and Herschel observing programmes. Contributing towards 3 PhD projects.
Collaborator Contribution Perform SED modelling
Impact Falder, Stevens, Jarvis, Hardcastle et al. 2010, MNRAS, 405, 347 Fernandez, Jarvis, ..., Stevens et al., 2011, MNRAS, 411, 1909 Dodd, Falder, Stevens, Jarvis, et al., 2011, MNRAS, submitted
 
Description A study of redshift 1 AGN 
Organisation Drexel University
Department Department of Physics
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Leading the collaboration. PIs of Spitzer and Herschel observing programmes. Contributing towards 3 PhD projects.
Collaborator Contribution Perform SED modelling
Impact Falder, Stevens, Jarvis, Hardcastle et al. 2010, MNRAS, 405, 347 Fernandez, Jarvis, ..., Stevens et al., 2011, MNRAS, 411, 1909 Dodd, Falder, Stevens, Jarvis, et al., 2011, MNRAS, submitted
 
Description A study of redshift 1 AGN 
Organisation European Southern Observatory (ESO)
Country Germany 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Leading the collaboration. PIs of Spitzer and Herschel observing programmes. Contributing towards 3 PhD projects.
Collaborator Contribution Perform SED modelling
Impact Falder, Stevens, Jarvis, Hardcastle et al. 2010, MNRAS, 405, 347 Fernandez, Jarvis, ..., Stevens et al., 2011, MNRAS, 411, 1909 Dodd, Falder, Stevens, Jarvis, et al., 2011, MNRAS, submitted
 
Description A study of redshift 1 AGN 
Organisation University College London
Department Department of Space and Climate Physics (MSSL)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Leading the collaboration. PIs of Spitzer and Herschel observing programmes. Contributing towards 3 PhD projects.
Collaborator Contribution Perform SED modelling
Impact Falder, Stevens, Jarvis, Hardcastle et al. 2010, MNRAS, 405, 347 Fernandez, Jarvis, ..., Stevens et al., 2011, MNRAS, 411, 1909 Dodd, Falder, Stevens, Jarvis, et al., 2011, MNRAS, submitted
 
Description A study of redshift 1 AGN 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Department Institute for Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Leading the collaboration. PIs of Spitzer and Herschel observing programmes. Contributing towards 3 PhD projects.
Collaborator Contribution Perform SED modelling
Impact Falder, Stevens, Jarvis, Hardcastle et al. 2010, MNRAS, 405, 347 Fernandez, Jarvis, ..., Stevens et al., 2011, MNRAS, 411, 1909 Dodd, Falder, Stevens, Jarvis, et al., 2011, MNRAS, submitted
 
Description A study of redshift 1 AGN 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Department of Physics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Leading the collaboration. PIs of Spitzer and Herschel observing programmes. Contributing towards 3 PhD projects.
Collaborator Contribution Perform SED modelling
Impact Falder, Stevens, Jarvis, Hardcastle et al. 2010, MNRAS, 405, 347 Fernandez, Jarvis, ..., Stevens et al., 2011, MNRAS, 411, 1909 Dodd, Falder, Stevens, Jarvis, et al., 2011, MNRAS, submitted
 
Description AGN demographics 
Organisation Durham University
Department Department of Physics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Developed the idea provided input into orientation effects for AGN line emission
Collaborator Contribution Carried our bulk of the analysis of SDSS spectra
Impact Fine, Jarvis, Mauch, 2011, MNRAS, 412, 213
Start Year 2009
 
Description Consortium of Universities for Goonhilly Astronomy (CUGA) 
Organisation University of Leeds
Department Astrophysics Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Treasurer for CUGA Founding member Lead the public outreach coordination
Collaborator Contribution Worked on defining the required infrastructure for Goonhilly to join eMERLIn and EVN
Impact Kloeckner et al., 2011, arXiv, 1103.3600 Heywood et al., 2011, arXiv, 1103.1214
Start Year 2011
 
Description Consortium of Universities for Goonhilly Astronomy (CUGA) 
Organisation University of Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Treasurer for CUGA Founding member Lead the public outreach coordination
Collaborator Contribution Worked on defining the required infrastructure for Goonhilly to join eMERLIn and EVN
Impact Kloeckner et al., 2011, arXiv, 1103.3600 Heywood et al., 2011, arXiv, 1103.1214
Start Year 2011
 
Description Consortium of Universities for Goonhilly Astronomy (CUGA) 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Astrophysics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Treasurer for CUGA Founding member Lead the public outreach coordination
Collaborator Contribution Worked on defining the required infrastructure for Goonhilly to join eMERLIn and EVN
Impact Kloeckner et al., 2011, arXiv, 1103.3600 Heywood et al., 2011, arXiv, 1103.1214
Start Year 2011
 
Description Galaxies at z>6 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Astrophysics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Led work on VLT-HAWK-I data
Collaborator Contribution Led work on HST WFC3 data. Help supervise student on VLT data
Impact Bunker et al, 2010, MNRAS, 409, 855 Lorenzoni et al., 2011, MNRAS in press Hickey, Bunker, Jarvis et al., 2010, MNRAS, 404, 212 Wilkins et al, 2010, MNRAS, 403, 938
Start Year 2009
 
Description Harvard-Herts X-ray collaboration 
Organisation Harvard University
Department Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Radio and X-ray astronomy expertise
Collaborator Contribution X-ray astronomy and AGN expertise
Impact Many publications principally on analysis of Chandra data
 
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 JCMT blazar monitoring programme 
Organisation Joint Astronomy Centre
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Co-authored paper. Wrote approximately 50 per cent of text and contributed to the analysis
Collaborator Contribution Scientific input
Impact Jenness, Robson & Stevens 2010, MNRAS, 401, 1240
 
Description JCMT blazar monitoring programme 
Organisation UK Astronomy Technology Centre (ATC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Co-authored paper. Wrote approximately 50 per cent of text and contributed to the analysis
Collaborator Contribution Scientific input
Impact Jenness, Robson & Stevens 2010, MNRAS, 401, 1240
 
Description Jet speeds in powerful radio galaxies 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department Department of Physics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Radio astronomy and statistical inference
Collaborator Contribution radio astronomy expertise
Impact Several papers on the imaging and properties of powerful radio galaxies.
 
Description Numerical modelling 
Organisation Max Planck Society
Department Max Planck Institute For Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE)
Country Germany 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution CPU time, radio galaxy physics expertise, coding
Collaborator Contribution Numerical modelling expertise
Impact 2 refereed publications, one submitted
Start Year 2012
 
Description Simulations for the Square Kilometre Array 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Astrophysics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Initiated the project and defined the technique
Collaborator Contribution Aided in developing the simulation Host the SQL data base
Impact Wilman, Miller, Jarvis et al., 2008, MNRAS, 388, 1335 Wilman, Jarvis, Mauch, Rawlings, Hickey, 2010, MNRAS, 405, 447
 
Description Spitzer Extragalactic Representative Volume Survey 
Organisation National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO)
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Led paper on high-z proto-clusters
Collaborator Contribution led from NRAO
Impact 2 publications
Start Year 2010
 
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 The Centaurus A Chandra Very Large Project 
Organisation Harvard University
Department Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Radio and X-ray astronomy expertise
Collaborator Contribution X-ray astronomy expertise
Impact Multiple publications on the X-ray properties of Centaurus A.
Start Year 2007
 
Description The Centaurus A Chandra Very Large Project 
Organisation McMaster University
Department Department of Physics & Astronomy
Country Canada 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Radio and X-ray astronomy expertise
Collaborator Contribution X-ray astronomy expertise
Impact Multiple publications on the X-ray properties of Centaurus A.
Start Year 2007
 
Description The Centaurus A Chandra Very Large Project 
Organisation Ohio State University
Department Department of Astronomy
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Radio and X-ray astronomy expertise
Collaborator Contribution X-ray astronomy expertise
Impact Multiple publications on the X-ray properties of Centaurus A.
Start Year 2007
 
Description The Centaurus A Chandra Very Large Project 
Organisation University of Birmingham
Department School of Physics and Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Radio and X-ray astronomy expertise
Collaborator Contribution X-ray astronomy expertise
Impact Multiple publications on the X-ray properties of Centaurus A.
Start Year 2007
 
Description The Centaurus A Chandra Very Large Project 
Organisation University of Bristol
Department School of Physics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Radio and X-ray astronomy expertise
Collaborator Contribution X-ray astronomy expertise
Impact Multiple publications on the X-ray properties of Centaurus A.
Start Year 2007
 
Description The Centaurus A Chandra Very Large Project 
Organisation University of Virginia (UVa)
Department Department of Astronomy
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Radio and X-ray astronomy expertise
Collaborator Contribution X-ray astronomy expertise
Impact Multiple publications on the X-ray properties of Centaurus A.
Start Year 2007
 
Description The Spitzer Extragalactic Representative Volume Survey (SERVS) 
Organisation National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO)
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Wrote first author paper on high-redshift quasar environments (PhD student lead author). Management team membership.
Collaborator Contribution various
Impact Falder, Stevens, Jarvis, Bonfield et al. 2011, ApJ, submitted Geach, Farrah, Lacy, Jarvis et al., 2011, ApJ, submitted Norris et al., 2011, ApJ, submitted Afonso et al., 2011, ApJ, submitted
Start Year 2008
 
Description UKIDSS-DXS 
Organisation Durham University
Department Astronomy & Astrophysics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Led follow-up spectroscopy on Gemini Led work on radio-near-infrared cross matching
Collaborator Contribution Leads the survey
Impact McAlpine & Jarvis, 2011, MNRAS, in press Swinbank et al., 2007, MNRAS, 379, 1343 Warren et al., 2007, MNRAS, 375, 213
 
Description UKIDSS-UDS 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Department School of Physics and Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Led galaxy cluster finding work.
Collaborator Contribution Lead the survey Produce deep stacked data
Impact van Breukelen et al. 2007, MNRAS, 382, 971 van Breukelen et al. 2009, MNRAS, 395, 11 van Breukelen et al. 2006, MNRAS, 373, 26
Start Year 2006
 
Description Using Gaussian Processes in Astronomy 
Organisation University of Hertfordshire
Department School of Computer Science
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Implement Gaussian Processes to estimate photometric redshifts in large astronomical data sets.
Collaborator Contribution Helped implement Gaussian Processes in estimating photometric redshifts of galaxies from large data sets.
Impact "Photometric redshift estimation using Gaussian processes", Bonfield D. G., Sun Y., Davey N., Jarvis M.J., Abdalla F. B., Banerji, M., Adams, R.G., 2010, MNRAS, 405, 987
Start Year 2009
 
Description X-ray jets collaboration 
Organisation Harvard University
Department Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Radio and X-ray astronomy expertise
Collaborator Contribution X-ray astronomy expertise
Impact Publication on the jet in Pictor A
Start Year 2009
 
Description X-ray jets collaboration 
Organisation Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Radio and X-ray astronomy expertise
Collaborator Contribution X-ray astronomy expertise
Impact Publication on the jet in Pictor A
Start Year 2009
 
Description Talk at University observatory Open Evening 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact More than 500 people attending the monthly Open Evenings held during the winter months, most of them attending ,y presentations related to radio astronomical observations.

Public understanding of science; motivating young people to engage with STEM subjects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2007,2008,2009,2010