Research in astrophysics and cosmology at the University of Bristol

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

This proposal is for a grant to researchers in the HH Wills Physics Laboratory of the University of Bristol to investigate important questions in astrophysics and cosmology.

Much cosmology over the past few years has been based on investigations of clusters of galaxies, and the first project is to ensure the usefulness of clusters by making reliable measurements of their masses. This involves statistically rigorous investigations using several methods on samples of clusters derived from X-ray surveys. The clusters span a wide mass range and are seen over half the age of the Universe, so we also have to take into account how clusters change in time. The X-rays come from hot gas atmospheres held by the clusters - though low in density these atmospheres account for much of the mass of normal matter, and have other detectable effects, for example on the microwave background radiation. Cross-checks with non-X-ray techniques of mass measurement will ensure the reliability of our results.

On a smaller scale, we know that individual galaxies also change in time, but there is currently little understanding of how these changes depend on galaxy mass and environment: galaxies of different masses change at different rates, for example. How these processes act with and against one another to build the population of galaxies that we see today is unclear, but the multi-band optical data that we have accumulated allows tests of how galaxies change, and how star formation is fuelled, in the low-redshift Universe. At higher redshift we will look for proto-clusters, which contain the fastest-evolving galaxies, to understand how galaxies evolve during the early growth of the first massive structures.

Essentially all massive galaxies contain massive black holes at, or near, their centres, and a third project will investigate how such black holes are able to create intense central radiation sources, and will use the changing brightness and spectrum of X-rays from the inner parts of these systems to study black hole physics and the gas held close to the black hole.

A fourth project looks at how the tiny regions in the centres of individual galaxies, near the central black holes, can affect gas on the large scale - by stopping catastrophic cooling of the atmospheres of clusters of galaxies, and by gradually making cluster atmospheres more magnetic over cosmic time. It is widely believed that a feedback process, in which gas in clusters is reheated by the ejection of very hot, fast, gas from the regions near black holes is involved, at least in one heating mode. Our calculations have identified the population of sources responsible for this heating, and now want to understand how the process works for these objects.

The fifth project involves the maintenance and improvement of codes used to work with catalogues of astronomical objects. These codes are essential when dealing with modern astronomical data, and are used world-wide, so are of great importance to many astronomers, but require development to deal with the increasing size and complexity of astronomical data. Some of the codes have even found their way into public products like the Microsoft World-Wide Telescope, and others are finding creative uses beyond astronomy.

The final project is theoretical, and investigates the nature of the gas/dust disks around young stars in which planets form. As young pieces of planets collide and assemble into larger planets they can also destroy one another. Some of the dusty disks we see around young stars may show evidence of this destructive side of planet formation. The purpose of the high-performance computer calculations to be done in this project is to interpret the extreme examples of dusty disks to see if they are changing because of giant impacts between young planets. The results from the calculations will be compared with continuing observations of changing disk emission.

Planned Impact

Direct beneficiaries from the research will be our academic colleagues and interested members of the public, who will be exposed to the research results through our lectures, talks in schools, podcasts, press releases, WWW pages, appearances on radio and TV, and exhibits in and around Bristol. More indirectly, the public may be affected by advice given to local MPs or City Councillors (such as Mark Wright, who did a PhD in the Astrophysics Group a few years ago).

Commercial benefits have already been had from the TOPCAT work (projects with Microsoft Research). Spin-offs from the Fourier Transform spectrometer constructed for the radio telescope have benefitted BEAM and AlphaData. Research associated with the study of variability in active galaxies (Section 5) has formed the basis of a commercial contract, and provides some support for algorithm development relevant to LSST and SKA, as well as being of commercial benefit. This led recently to the company being awarded two major contracts, ensuring a flow of income for the next five to ten years, and also providing work for a local SME with whom we work on commercial-quality coding of our algorithms.

More generically, the sophisticated image and time-series analysis techniques used in our research can be applied to many problems. We will continue to work with the Atomic Force Microscopy group in the University to improve their imaging (as in recent imaging of moving DNA molecules), and are exploring the application of our techniques to medical imaging through the Clinical Research and Imaging Centre of the University.

Finally, the major economic output of this work will continue to be trained PhDs and PDRAs who mostly go into non-academic areas for their later careers. These careers have included local Government, the defence and security sector, plasma fusion research, meteorology, teaching, and finance.

Organisations

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description CHeCS 
Organisation Harvard University
Department Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Working together on cluster sample
Collaborator Contribution Working together on cluster sample
Impact Publications
Start Year 2018
 
Description CHeCS 
Organisation University of Turin
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Working together on cluster sample
Collaborator Contribution Working together on cluster sample
Impact Publications
Start Year 2018
 
Description CHeCS 
Organisation Western Washington University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Working together on cluster sample
Collaborator Contribution Working together on cluster sample
Impact Publications
Start Year 2018
 
Description GAIA team 
Organisation ESA - ESTEC
Country Netherlands 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Taylor has written much of the database access code for end-users, including major graphical display improvements.
Collaborator Contribution ESA satellite project to map star positions in the Galaxy: highly successful at generating vast database, requiring our database access methodology
Impact Extensive database for studies of structure of Galaxy.
Start Year 2009
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation Australian Astronomical Observatory
Country Australia 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation Australian National University (ANU)
Department Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Country Australia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation Cardiff University
Department School of Physics and Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation Carnegie Institution for Science (CIS)
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO)
Country Chile 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation Durham University
Department Institute for Computational Cosmology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation European Southern Observatory (ESO)
Country Germany 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation Imperial College London
Department Astrophysics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR)
Country Australia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation Leiden University
Department Leiden Observatory
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation Liverpool John Moores University
Department Astrophysics Research Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation Max Planck Society
Department Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics
Country Germany 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation Max Planck Society
Department Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics
Country Germany 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation Monash University
Department School of Physics and Astronomy
Country Australia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation Queen Mary University of London
Department School of Physics and Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation Swinburne University of Technology
Department Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing
Country Australia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation University of Barcelona
Department Institute for Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC)
Country Spain 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation University of Birmingham
Department School of Physics and Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation University of British Columbia
Country Canada 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation University of Canterbury
Department Department of Physics and Astronomy
Country New Zealand 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation University of Central Lancashire
Department Jeremiah Horrocks Institute for Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Department Institute for Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Department School of Physics and Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Department of Physics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation University of Portsmouth
Department Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation University of Sao Paulo
Department Institute Of Astronomy
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation University of St Andrews
Department School of Physics and Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation University of Sussex
Department Astronomy Centre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation University of Sydney
Department Sydney Institute for Astronomy
Country Australia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation University of Waterloo
Department Department of Physics & Astronomy
Country Canada 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description GAMA 
Organisation University of the Western Cape
Department Department of Physics
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Observations, optical image analysis, spectroscopic analysis, clustering properties
Collaborator Contribution Observation, image and spectroscopic analysis, luminosity and correlation functions,
Impact Many publications.
 
Description SKA Magnetism SWG 
Organisation Max Planck Society
Department Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy
Country Germany 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Working with the team on issues to do with source populations, calibration across wide fields, radio galaxies
Collaborator Contribution Studies on wide-field polarisation imaging - paper submitted (Eyles et al.), and Big Data CDT student (Allotey) working on issues.
Impact Publications submitted and in preparation.
Start Year 2016
 
Description XMM Heritage programme on Planck clusters 
Organisation Harvard University
Department Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Analysis of X-ray data; statistics
Collaborator Contribution Combination with other datasets
Impact Publications will be forthcoming
Start Year 2018
 
Description XMM Heritage programme on Planck clusters 
Organisation Max Planck Society
Department Max Planck Institute For Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE)
Country Germany 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Analysis of X-ray data; statistics
Collaborator Contribution Combination with other datasets
Impact Publications will be forthcoming
Start Year 2018
 
Description XMM Heritage programme on Planck clusters 
Organisation National Institute for Nuclear Physics
Department National Institute for Nuclear Physics - Milano
Country Italy 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Analysis of X-ray data; statistics
Collaborator Contribution Combination with other datasets
Impact Publications will be forthcoming
Start Year 2018
 
Description XMM Heritage programme on Planck clusters 
Organisation Saclay Nuclear Research Centre
Department Service d'Astrophysique
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Analysis of X-ray data; statistics
Collaborator Contribution Combination with other datasets
Impact Publications will be forthcoming
Start Year 2018
 
Description XMM Heritage programme on Planck clusters 
Organisation Sorbonne Universités
PI Contribution Analysis of X-ray data; statistics
Collaborator Contribution Combination with other datasets
Impact Publications will be forthcoming
Start Year 2018
 
Description XMM Heritage programme on Planck clusters 
Organisation University of Manchester
Department School of Physics and Astronomy Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Analysis of X-ray data; statistics
Collaborator Contribution Combination with other datasets
Impact Publications will be forthcoming
Start Year 2018
 
Description XMM Heritage programme on Planck clusters 
Organisation University of Toulouse
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Analysis of X-ray data; statistics
Collaborator Contribution Combination with other datasets
Impact Publications will be forthcoming
Start Year 2018
 
Description XMM-LSS collaboration 
Organisation Saclay Nuclear Research Centre
Department Service d'Astrophysique
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Co-authored multiple papers and proposals; performed first SZ observations of sample clusters.
Collaborator Contribution Access to XMM-LSS datasets, pipeline analysis of datasets that allowed sekection of high-redshift clusters for follow-up research.
Impact Multiple publications on cosmology and astrophysics; development of concept for future surveys.
 
Title TOPCAT and related software 
Description TOPCAT and related libraries provide means of accessing, displaying, and comparing catalogue data from remote or local databases. The software is the predominant astronomical catalogue manipulation package. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2018 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Used for Gaia and many other projects. New versions are frequently released. The most recent public release of TOPCAT is version 4.6-2, released 2 November 2018. 
URL http://www.star.bris.ac.uk/~mbt/topcat/
 
Description Radio interviews 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Variety of radio interviews: BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Bristol, Local radio
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019