Hertfordshire Astronomy 2018-2021

Lead Research Organisation: University of Hertfordshire
Department Name: School of Physics, Astronomy and Maths

Abstract

The Centre for Astrophysics Research carries out observational programmes spanning the wavelength range from X-ray to radio -- supporting this by computer modelling and simulation. Our research ranges from observations of high-redshift galaxies at long wavelengths through to novel statistical analyses of observations seeking to detect planets outside our Solar System. In between these extremes, we carry out the largest multi-wavelength surveys conducted to date to understand the properties of the Milky Way. 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 X-rays. Computer simulations gives us a better understanding of the physical processes detected in our observations, and we need to apply advanced data-mining techniques to work with the ~terabyte datasets we are generating. Below is a brief description of our research in each of these areas.

We perform searches of nearby stars to discover planets, and are world leaders in the application of radial-velocity methods for this purpose; our focus in the grant period will be the planet populations around Sun-like nearby stars. We also discover, follow up and model the properties of the coolest brown dwarfs whose temperatures overlap with those of planets. These studies aim to understand the diversity of the population of brown dwarfs detected with the Gaia satellite and to establish how their modes of formation fit in with those of their brethren of different masses, i.e. heavier (stars) or lighter (planets).

The Milky Way is our home galaxy. Material within it, in the form of gas and dust, is the raw material for forming stars and planetary systems. At the end of stellar lives some of this material remains locked up in stellar remnants but much of it is returned in late superwind phases and supernova explosions. The cycle between accretion in youth and outflow in old age enriches the gaseous medium and governs its dynamics, via the thermal and mechanical energy injected into the gas. By using large area imaging surveys, our research looks at how gas, dust and stars within the Milky Way are connected, and at the details of how stars are formed. Our surveys span the optical to radio domains, tracing stars, extinction, molecular clouds, their dust properties and associated star formation.

Looking beyond the Milky Way, it is possible to appraise how stars form and evolve in different environments, from small dwarf galaxies to the outer parts of other galaxies like our own. We study the gas content of galaxies, providing the material for star formation, and link what we find to stellar populations and to star forming regions in the full range of local galaxies. By understanding the processes that trigger star formation and stellar evolution in the nearby Universe, we can apply this understanding to the very earliest galaxies and the first generations of stars in the distant Universe. Indeed some of our work focuses on high-redshift galaxies detected with great efficiency at sub-millimetre wavelengths, making use of cutting-edge instruments such as ALMA.

A new generation of surveys is mapping out the most distant galaxies, and allows us to investigate what links the processes of star formation and the growth of supermassive black holes. We also use detailed radio and X-ray observations, along with computer modelling, 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 playing a long-term role in their evolutionary history. The evolution of the chemical elements in these galaxies, and the interplay between black-hole activity and elemental abundances, is a particular focus of this proposal.

Planned Impact

We identify three classes of beneficiaries from this research:

1) academic beneficiaries

2) the general public and particularly teachers and pupils in schools locally and nationally through our outreach and public engagement programme.

3) industry, directly through collaborations / technology transfer, indirectly through our training of undergraduate and graduate students.

For academic beneficiaries see the relevant section of the proposal.

Our outreach and public engagement programme is very strongly driven by the cutting-edge research funded by the STFC grant. Elements of this include (i) public open evenings at the Bayfordbury observatory, which generally have a research-based theme; this reaches local people, particularly families, which is important as parents, along with teachers, are most influential in the career choice of young people. (ii) Observatory group visits from a very wide range of groups, again often including young people. (iii) 'Cutting-edge astronomy' courses delivered to teachers, allowing teachers to better understand some of the concepts they teach, and giving them increased confidence to deliver the material in their classes. (iv) Schools outreach, engaging large numbers of pupils in local schools with the research activities of the group. In addition, we access the wider public through national and international print media, websites, popular books, TV and radio appearances and so on.

We have close links with various commercial organizations, such as Airbus Defence and Space a few miles away in Stevenage, with whom we have in the past collaborated on project proposals, and GES Ltd, the commercial organization developing the Goonhilly Earth Station for various purposes including public engagement and radio astronomy use. These contacts necessarily rely on the cutting-edge science and technical skills supported by STFC.

Publications

10 25 50

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Billington S (2019) ATLASGAL - physical parameters of dust clumps associated with 6.7 GHz methanol masers in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Borissova J. (2019) Open cluster candidates in the VVVX area: VVVX CL 076 and CL 077 in Boletin de la Asociacion Argentina de Astronomia La Plata Argentina

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Borissova J. (2018) New Galactic star clusters discovered in the disc area of the VVVX survey in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Borissova Jura (2019) The G305 Star-forming Region. I. Newly Classified Hot Stars in The Astronomical Journal

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Cescutti Gabriele (2018) The Chemical Signature of SNIax in the Stars of Ursa Minor? in American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #232

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Clarke Jonathan P. (2019) The Milky Way bar/bulge in proper motions: a 3D view from VIRAC and Gaia in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Clarke S (2019) Determining the presence of characteristic fragmentation length-scales in filaments in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

 
Description Researcher Development Skill Up! Award
Amount £530 (GBP)
Organisation University of Hertfordshire 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2019 
End 07/2019
 
Description BRIDGCE consortium: BRIdge the Disciplines related to the Galactic Chemical Evolution 
Organisation Armagh Observatory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I became the chair of this STFC-funded consortium. I am organizing annual meetings and initiating consortium grand application for STFC. Gabriele Cescutti was the founded PDRA in 2015/16 and contributed to this network with his skills on Galactic chemical evolution and also with his participation to the SHYNE project. Fiorenzo Vincenzo succeeded the funded PDRA from 2017.
Collaborator Contribution The BRIDGCE consortium is important for us and for all its partners in order to develope synergy between the various expertise available in the UK and facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK.
Impact The main outcomes of BRIDGCE are the following: Facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK. Liaise with other national and international networks (e.g. JINA) who share the same goals. Develop synergy between the various expertise available in the UK. Enhance PhD students training in this multi-disciplinary research area. It is possible to find at this link: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/events the events organised by the collaboration, and the this link the talks and publication: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/publications-talks.
Start Year 2015
 
Description BRIDGCE consortium: BRIdge the Disciplines related to the Galactic Chemical Evolution 
Organisation Keele University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I became the chair of this STFC-funded consortium. I am organizing annual meetings and initiating consortium grand application for STFC. Gabriele Cescutti was the founded PDRA in 2015/16 and contributed to this network with his skills on Galactic chemical evolution and also with his participation to the SHYNE project. Fiorenzo Vincenzo succeeded the funded PDRA from 2017.
Collaborator Contribution The BRIDGCE consortium is important for us and for all its partners in order to develope synergy between the various expertise available in the UK and facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK.
Impact The main outcomes of BRIDGCE are the following: Facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK. Liaise with other national and international networks (e.g. JINA) who share the same goals. Develop synergy between the various expertise available in the UK. Enhance PhD students training in this multi-disciplinary research area. It is possible to find at this link: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/events the events organised by the collaboration, and the this link the talks and publication: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/publications-talks.
Start Year 2015
 
Description BRIDGCE consortium: BRIdge the Disciplines related to the Galactic Chemical Evolution 
Organisation Liverpool John Moores University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I became the chair of this STFC-funded consortium. I am organizing annual meetings and initiating consortium grand application for STFC. Gabriele Cescutti was the founded PDRA in 2015/16 and contributed to this network with his skills on Galactic chemical evolution and also with his participation to the SHYNE project. Fiorenzo Vincenzo succeeded the funded PDRA from 2017.
Collaborator Contribution The BRIDGCE consortium is important for us and for all its partners in order to develope synergy between the various expertise available in the UK and facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK.
Impact The main outcomes of BRIDGCE are the following: Facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK. Liaise with other national and international networks (e.g. JINA) who share the same goals. Develop synergy between the various expertise available in the UK. Enhance PhD students training in this multi-disciplinary research area. It is possible to find at this link: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/events the events organised by the collaboration, and the this link the talks and publication: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/publications-talks.
Start Year 2015
 
Description BRIDGCE consortium: BRIdge the Disciplines related to the Galactic Chemical Evolution 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I became the chair of this STFC-funded consortium. I am organizing annual meetings and initiating consortium grand application for STFC. Gabriele Cescutti was the founded PDRA in 2015/16 and contributed to this network with his skills on Galactic chemical evolution and also with his participation to the SHYNE project. Fiorenzo Vincenzo succeeded the funded PDRA from 2017.
Collaborator Contribution The BRIDGCE consortium is important for us and for all its partners in order to develope synergy between the various expertise available in the UK and facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK.
Impact The main outcomes of BRIDGCE are the following: Facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK. Liaise with other national and international networks (e.g. JINA) who share the same goals. Develop synergy between the various expertise available in the UK. Enhance PhD students training in this multi-disciplinary research area. It is possible to find at this link: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/events the events organised by the collaboration, and the this link the talks and publication: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/publications-talks.
Start Year 2015
 
Description BRIDGCE consortium: BRIdge the Disciplines related to the Galactic Chemical Evolution 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I became the chair of this STFC-funded consortium. I am organizing annual meetings and initiating consortium grand application for STFC. Gabriele Cescutti was the founded PDRA in 2015/16 and contributed to this network with his skills on Galactic chemical evolution and also with his participation to the SHYNE project. Fiorenzo Vincenzo succeeded the funded PDRA from 2017.
Collaborator Contribution The BRIDGCE consortium is important for us and for all its partners in order to develope synergy between the various expertise available in the UK and facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK.
Impact The main outcomes of BRIDGCE are the following: Facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK. Liaise with other national and international networks (e.g. JINA) who share the same goals. Develop synergy between the various expertise available in the UK. Enhance PhD students training in this multi-disciplinary research area. It is possible to find at this link: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/events the events organised by the collaboration, and the this link the talks and publication: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/publications-talks.
Start Year 2015
 
Description BRIDGCE consortium: BRIdge the Disciplines related to the Galactic Chemical Evolution 
Organisation University of Hull
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I became the chair of this STFC-funded consortium. I am organizing annual meetings and initiating consortium grand application for STFC. Gabriele Cescutti was the founded PDRA in 2015/16 and contributed to this network with his skills on Galactic chemical evolution and also with his participation to the SHYNE project. Fiorenzo Vincenzo succeeded the funded PDRA from 2017.
Collaborator Contribution The BRIDGCE consortium is important for us and for all its partners in order to develope synergy between the various expertise available in the UK and facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK.
Impact The main outcomes of BRIDGCE are the following: Facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK. Liaise with other national and international networks (e.g. JINA) who share the same goals. Develop synergy between the various expertise available in the UK. Enhance PhD students training in this multi-disciplinary research area. It is possible to find at this link: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/events the events organised by the collaboration, and the this link the talks and publication: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/publications-talks.
Start Year 2015
 
Description BRIDGCE consortium: BRIdge the Disciplines related to the Galactic Chemical Evolution 
Organisation University of Portsmouth
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I became the chair of this STFC-funded consortium. I am organizing annual meetings and initiating consortium grand application for STFC. Gabriele Cescutti was the founded PDRA in 2015/16 and contributed to this network with his skills on Galactic chemical evolution and also with his participation to the SHYNE project. Fiorenzo Vincenzo succeeded the funded PDRA from 2017.
Collaborator Contribution The BRIDGCE consortium is important for us and for all its partners in order to develope synergy between the various expertise available in the UK and facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK.
Impact The main outcomes of BRIDGCE are the following: Facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK. Liaise with other national and international networks (e.g. JINA) who share the same goals. Develop synergy between the various expertise available in the UK. Enhance PhD students training in this multi-disciplinary research area. It is possible to find at this link: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/events the events organised by the collaboration, and the this link the talks and publication: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/publications-talks.
Start Year 2015
 
Description BRIDGCE consortium: BRIdge the Disciplines related to the Galactic Chemical Evolution 
Organisation University of Surrey
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I became the chair of this STFC-funded consortium. I am organizing annual meetings and initiating consortium grand application for STFC. Gabriele Cescutti was the founded PDRA in 2015/16 and contributed to this network with his skills on Galactic chemical evolution and also with his participation to the SHYNE project. Fiorenzo Vincenzo succeeded the funded PDRA from 2017.
Collaborator Contribution The BRIDGCE consortium is important for us and for all its partners in order to develope synergy between the various expertise available in the UK and facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK.
Impact The main outcomes of BRIDGCE are the following: Facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK. Liaise with other national and international networks (e.g. JINA) who share the same goals. Develop synergy between the various expertise available in the UK. Enhance PhD students training in this multi-disciplinary research area. It is possible to find at this link: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/events the events organised by the collaboration, and the this link the talks and publication: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/publications-talks.
Start Year 2015
 
Description BRIDGCE consortium: BRIdge the Disciplines related to the Galactic Chemical Evolution 
Organisation University of York
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I became the chair of this STFC-funded consortium. I am organizing annual meetings and initiating consortium grand application for STFC. Gabriele Cescutti was the founded PDRA in 2015/16 and contributed to this network with his skills on Galactic chemical evolution and also with his participation to the SHYNE project. Fiorenzo Vincenzo succeeded the funded PDRA from 2017.
Collaborator Contribution The BRIDGCE consortium is important for us and for all its partners in order to develope synergy between the various expertise available in the UK and facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK.
Impact The main outcomes of BRIDGCE are the following: Facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the UK. Liaise with other national and international networks (e.g. JINA) who share the same goals. Develop synergy between the various expertise available in the UK. Enhance PhD students training in this multi-disciplinary research area. It is possible to find at this link: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/events the events organised by the collaboration, and the this link the talks and publication: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/bridgce/publications-talks.
Start Year 2015
 
Description EU COST Action ChETEC: Chemical Element as Tracers of the Evolution of the Cosmos 
Organisation Konkoly Observatory
Country Hungary 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am the Management Committee member of EU COST Action "ChETEC: Chemical Element as Tracers of the Evolution of the Cosmos". I made a major contribtion to the successful proposal "C, N, O, Zn, & Eu: Discriminators of nucleosynthetic yields from the first supernovae or neutron star mergers" for 40 nights on the VLT.
Collaborator Contribution The ChETEC action is important for us and for all its partners in order to develope synergy between the various expertise available in the EU and facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the EU.
Impact 600k EUR in total available for short-time visitors and studentship in 2017-2020
Start Year 2017
 
Description EU COST Action ChETEC: Chemical Element as Tracers of the Evolution of the Cosmos 
Organisation Max Planck Society
Department Max Planck Institute for Microstructure Physics
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am the Management Committee member of EU COST Action "ChETEC: Chemical Element as Tracers of the Evolution of the Cosmos". I made a major contribtion to the successful proposal "C, N, O, Zn, & Eu: Discriminators of nucleosynthetic yields from the first supernovae or neutron star mergers" for 40 nights on the VLT.
Collaborator Contribution The ChETEC action is important for us and for all its partners in order to develope synergy between the various expertise available in the EU and facilitate transfer of knowledge and collaborations related to the origin of the elements across the various disciplines and institutions in the EU.
Impact 600k EUR in total available for short-time visitors and studentship in 2017-2020
Start Year 2017
 
Description Open days at Bayfordbury Observatory 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The University holds regular open days for sixth-form students at our Bayfordbury Observatory, which is used for both teaching and research. Teaching staff and undergraduates give tours of the telescopes and explain the research and teaching done with them. I attend 1-2 of these events every year. They are mainly aimed at attracting school pupils to apply for our Physics and Astronomy course, but also serve as outreach to interested parents. Pupils and parents often report being impressed with the quality of the facilities, the research done there, and with the discussion of the courses.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018,2019
 
Description Outreach Talk (Bayfordbury) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Gave a talk to ~60 people from across south Hertfordshire at the telescope open evening. People of all ages asked questions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Outreach Talk (East London Science School) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Gave 40 minute talk to year 7-11 students of East London Science School as part of their Enrichment Fortnight. Answered questions and talked to teachers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Outreach Talk (Hemel Science Week) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Gave 40 minute talk about star formation to ~20 science-interested members of the public in Hemel Hempstead. Answered questions after and engaged with other speakers present.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Public Talk, Dunsink Observatory, Dublin 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I gave a public talk entitled 'Making star clusters on computers' as part of on open evening at Dunsink Observatory outside Dublin, attended by about 80 members of the public of every age. There was a very lively Q&A session afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
 
Description Public talk at the Planetarium Wenus in Zielona Gora, Poland 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An invited public talk and presentation at a planetarium in Zielona Góra, Poland, on a cycle "Thursday's encounters with Science". The talk, entitled "Between stars and planets - what are the Brown Dwarfs" was intended to overview the history of discovery of brown dwarfs, their properties and selected recent results from this field. The talk was presented in polish, about 80-100 people from the region attended, and lively discussion was held after the talk with interesting questions and general interest in the subject.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL http://planetariumwenus.pl/miedzy-planetami-a-gwiazdami-czym-sa-brazowe-karly/
 
Description Workshop "Tackling the Complexities of Substellar Objects" 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshop "Tackling the Complexities of Substellar Objects" in Leiden, Netherlands. A 5 days meeting to brainstorm the tools and techniques which bring together researchers working on brown dwarfs, exoplanets and the Solar System. Fun and excellent discussions on substellar objects, bringing up ideas for future studies of these objects. Good opportunity for networking and engaging in observing proposals ideas which emerged during the workshop.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.lorentzcenter.nl/tackling-the-complexities-of-substellar-objects.html