Astrophysics Research at the University of Leicester

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

Our research aims to investigate a range of high-priority science topics in these areas:

i. studying high-energy and high-redshift explosive transients and how they relate to gravitational wave events
ii. investigating the growth and evolution of the first stars and black holes in galaxies
iii. determining the properties of accretion disks in active galactic nuclei
iv. measuring the fundamental properties of white dwarf stars, the remnants of stars like the Sun
v. investigating the properties of exoplanets, brown dwarfs and low mass stars
vi. determining the evolution of tidal disruption events in galaxies where stars are torn apart as they come close to a supermassive black
vii. investigating the origin of the stars seen in the centre of the Milky Way galaxy
viii. determining the structure of the Milky Way galaxy
ix. investigating the auroral emission of exoplanets
x. developing the concept of an intensity interferometry system for the Cherenkov Telescope Array to provide high-resolution images of cosmic objects

We will deliver this programme by carrying out observations using a broad range of ground and space based observing facilities, including XMM-Newton, HST, Swift, GAIA, JWST, ALMA, VLT, VISTA, WHT, INT, LT, NGTS, GOTO and Spitzer, and by conducting numerical simulations using major High Performance Computer facilities such as DiRAC.

Planned Impact

The applicants on the grant offer a diverse skill set that constitute a valuable resource to the private and public sectors. We have extensive experience and expertise in e.g. data analysis and handling, spacecraft and mission management, algorithm design, software engineering and high-performance computing. Exploitation of this expertise is supported at all levels within the University, and is a prime driver behind the £100M 'Space Park Leicester' concept.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is committed to promoting and maximising the impact of our research. The College of Science and Engineering plays a leading role in the Enterprise Agenda for the University and offers dedicated enterprise officers and impact enhancing resources. Further support is provided by the University's Research and Enterprise Division, which works with academics and external stakeholders to create maximum impact in the local, national, and international community. This structure (i) delivers enterprising impact through the alignment of our research with major global and industrial challenges, (ii) identifies and addresses the opportunities to play a positive role in the economic development of our region and the UK, (iii) utilises research and related activities to develop skills and capability within a broad spectrum of the public and private sectors, (iv) provides expert advice and guidance to industry and policy makers, (v) ensures that its intellectual property is effectively transferred and disseminated, and (vi) contributes to the wider cultural benefit of society through an enterprising and engaging outreach programme.

The long-term impact strategy has four elements:

(1) to support and develop the skills and experience of the applicants;
(2) to ensure that links with public and private sector industries are developed and maximised;
(3) to disseminate knowledge, skills and expertise to the benefit of the local, national and international business and civic communities;
4) to sustain and develop our successful outreach programme with particular emphasis on enhancing our efforts to develop valid outcome measures.

Publications

10 25 50
publication icon
Pandey S. B. (2019) A multiwavelength analysis of a collection of short-duration GRBs observed between 2012 and 2015 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

publication icon
Nayakshin S. (2019) ALMA observations require slower Core Accretion runaway growth in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

publication icon
Eyles R (2019) An unusual transient following the short GRB 071227 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

publication icon
Hands T (2020) Capture of interstellar objects: a source of long-period comets in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters

publication icon
Wiersema K (2019) Chandra and Hubble Space Telescope observations of dark gamma-ray bursts and their host galaxies in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

publication icon
Humphries J. (2019) Constraining the initial planetary population in the gravitational instability model in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

publication icon
Alsaberi R (2019) Discovery of a pulsar-powered bow shock nebula in the Small Magellanic Cloud supernova remnant DEM S5 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

 
Description ENGRAVE 
Organisation European Southern Observatory (ESO)
Country Germany 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Our Leicester team is part of a large international collaboration to use ESO telescopes and others, for follow-up of the electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational wave events. Tanvir is a member of the governing council of ENGRAVE.
Collaborator Contribution The collaboration has over 250 members, who bring diverse expertise. In particular, real time duties are the responsibility of a core group of about 40 people currently.
Impact One paper submitted so far.
Start Year 2018
 
Description STARGATE 
Organisation European Southern Observatory (ESO)
Country Germany 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Tanvir is PI of a large collaboration whose goal is to obtain optical/nIR follow-up observations of gamma-ray bursts using ESO facilities.
Collaborator Contribution The collaboration consists of a (geographically spread) core group who trigger and analyse the rapid target-of-opportunity observations, plus a wider group who contribute to planning, interpretation and analysis for at least some of the specialised sub-projects. (the number of partner institutions in this sense is large and fluid, and they are not individually listed. Similarly the value of the in-kind contributions is not well defined; except for ESO for which the value recorded here is a rough estimate)
Impact About 15 papers written to date.
Start Year 2016
 
Description VINROUGE 
Organisation European Southern Observatory (ESO)
Country Germany 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Tanvir is PI of a large international collaboration dedicated to using the ESO VISTA telescope for follow-up observations of gravitational wave events.
Collaborator Contribution Other partners provide expertise on different aspects of our campaign.
Impact Two papers directly; several others enabled by the results.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Astronomical Society (Knowle) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk to astronomical society
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Cardiff Astronomical Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk to society
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Cheltenham Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Panel discussion
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Northants Natural History Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk to society
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Seminar at Goddard Space Flight Centre, USA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk to scientists and engineers at NASA
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Talk at NewScientist Live event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk at NewScientist Live event
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019