Survey Cosmology and Astrophysics

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

Abstract

This rolling grant is to support cosmologists and astrophysicists at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) at the University of Portsmouth. The ICG was formed in 2002 through a strategic investment from the university, and now hosts up to 50 researchers making it one of the largest extragalactic groups in the UK. Cosmology and astrophysics are experiencing a golden age of discovery driven by new advances in technology and theory. However, we still face two fundamental challenges before a more complete model 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 grant will address both these fundamental 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 detect 300 million galaxies thus allowing us to measure the clustering of galaxies to high precision and detect the weak gravitational lensing of distant galaxies due to the foreground dark matter. DES will also discover thousands of distant supernovae (exploding stars) which will determine the expansion of the Universe over 70% of its lifetime. We are the only UK astronomy group involved in the new Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III) Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) which will measure the redshift (and thus distance) to over 1.5 million galaxies over half the age of the Universe. BOSS started in 2009 and we will use these data to study the evolution of massive galaxies, especially when compared to the latest theoretical models of galaxies produced exclusively at the ICG, understand the effect of host galaxies on supernova explosions and determine the geometry of the Universe to high precision using the Baryon Acoustic Oscillations. In addition to new optical surveys, we plan to harness the power of the next generation of radio telescopes that are just being built. The first of these is LOFAR, which has base stations spread across Europe forming an effective radio telescope over 600 kilometres 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 of slowing down the growth of such galaxies, making them 'red and dead' today. Also, the LOFAR data can be used to understand dark energy through the 'Integrated Sachs-Wolfe' effect, which is particularly sensitive to the rate of growth of structures in the Universe and thus the strength of gravity on cosmological scales. Therefore, LOFAR will be a powerful tool for testing Einstein's Theory of General Relativity which is fundamental to cosmology. Taken together, 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. We will also obtain a fuller understanding of the characteristics of massive galaxies throughout cosmic time. This will tell us whether the cold dark matter theory provides an adequate description of the formation and evolution of galaxies. In addition to research, the ICG staff are committed to public outreach and have been engaged in a number of visible activities in the media and local community. For example, our staff have visited many local schools to discuss their careers, their research (e.g. Galaxy Zoo), and express the fun of doing research.

Publications

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Aihara H (2011) THE EIGHTH DATA RELEASE OF THE SLOAN DIGITAL SKY SURVEY: FIRST DATA FROM SDSS-III in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series

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Beifiori A (2011) On the spectral resolution of the MILES stellar library in Astronomy & Astrophysics

 
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 Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,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. Research on citizen science (GalaxyZoo) has been recently developed for use with commercial company
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description Continuation of funding as new STFC consolidated grant "Cosmology and Astrophysics at Portsmouth"
Amount £1,378,546 (GBP)
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2013 
End 04/2015
 
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 BBC Stargazing Spinnaker Tower Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Workshop Facilitator
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Information not available
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Cosmology Masterclass 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Since 2012 the Cosmology Masterclass has engaged and inspired over 200 A level students with research at the ICG. The Cosmology Masterclass began as a collaboration with The Portsmouth Grammar School in 2010 and is now held annually on campus, with several additional 'mini-Masterclasses' each year at local colleges.

- Feedback from the 2013 event was some of the best the University has received for an A level event.
- Over the years 13 students have subsequently joined ICG for summer placements of which four cite their experiences at ICG as helping them to decide to pursue STEM subjects at university.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2012,2013,2014
 
Description Scienza Arte Ambiente 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 1 h of questions after the talk that we had to stop for logistic reasons (the pupils would have continued!

Information not available
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Talk "Mapping the Universe" - Percival inaugural 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Professor Percival's inaugural lecture, attended by VIPs, members of the ICG and the general public

The Lecture was recorded.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description University of Portsmouth Year 12 Technology Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Information not available
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description UoP Year 12 Science Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Co-Is have contributed talks to the annual Faculty of Science conference for year 12 students, sparking questions following the talk.

Unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2014,2015
 
Description Year 12 science conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Information not available
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012