Astrophysics at the University of Nottingham 2020-2023

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Physics & Astronomy

Abstract

The main focus of our research in Nottingham is to understand how galaxies form and how they evolve through time to produce the rich variety of structures we see today. We tackle these problems with a number of complementary approaches. One approach is to study relatively nearby galaxies, which we can observe in greater detail. In Nottingham we are involved in a large international project (MaNGA), designed to dissect thousands of local galaxies and extract far more information than was previously possible. At the other extreme, we also specialise in studying very distant galaxies, observing them in the act of formation and transformation many billions of years ago. Due to the finite speed of light, when we observe very distant galaxies we are also looking far back in time, allowing us to observe galaxy evolution at different stages throughout the history of the Universe. Another aim of our research is to understand the roles of "nature" versus "nurture" in shaping galaxy evolution, and in particular how they are influenced by the environments in which they reside. We tackle these varied and challenging problems using a combination of observational techniques, using some of the largest telescopes in the world and in space, combined with theoretical studies and computer simulations. With the latest supercomputers we can create models to simulate the formation of galaxies and the growth of cosmic structures. Many of the most interesting discoveries occur when we confront our models with the latest data, to directly test our understanding of the key processes shaping the Universe. We also use gravitational lensing, a novel technique that exploits the warping of space time by massive objects, which allows us to map the distribution of matter and structure in the Universe to great precision. Finally, we are also developing new "machine learning" tools to help the astronomical community analyse the vast amounts of data that are now routinely produced by astronomical observations and simulations.

Planned Impact

Impact is embedded in the culture and working of the Group, and we have a well-established track record in its delivery.

Our extensive outreach program includes all the activities traditionally associated with astronomy. We give talks at schools, astronomical societies and events, both locally and across the country. We write popular articles and books. We engage with the media both through regular contributions and one-off press releases presenting our work.

However, we are also committed to pushing boundaries in outreach by undertaking novel activities to reach new audiences in new ways. We have a track record of collaborating with artists to produce engagingly different events and installations. We are involved in the organisation of the citizen science movement to directly involve the public in our research. We have developed a programme of outreach to local schools that prioritises widening participation, which uses an inflatable planetarium (for which we obtained the funding) as the focus for the activity. We have established a very strong presence on YouTube through the Sixty Symbols and Deep Sky Videos channels, reaching a subscriber base of in excess of nearly a million people all across the World.

We also work across the breadth of knowledge exchange. We have developed our success in video presentation by producing YouTube series for external organisations (including STFC). We have spun out an outreach-related company that produces realistic renderings of astronomical objects in glass. We have assisted in the application of our research to other fields, such as applying machine-learning techniques to applications in quantum control and urbanisation.

It is in the nature of innovative research that one cannot predict the precise areas in which possible impact will arise, so it is important to maintain a flexible attitude to its exploitation (whilst insuring that it is not relegated to a minor role because of this uncertainty). The way in which impact is embedded in the culture of the Group ensures that we are in a position to capture and exploit these opportunities as they arise, and our clear strong track record in this area demonstrates that we actually do so in practice. We fully intend to continue with this committed flexible approach through the period of this Consolidated Grant.

Publications

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Coccato L (2020) Formation of S0s in extreme environments I: clues from kinematics and stellar populations in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Drory N (2020) SDSS-IV MaNGA: spatially resolved dust attenuation in spiral galaxies in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Elmer E. (2020) Long-term NIR Variability in the UKIDSS Ultra Deep Survey: a new probe of AGN activity at high redshift. in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Fraser-McKelvie A (2020) Properties of barred galaxies in the MaNGA galaxy survey in Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union

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Fraser-McKelvie A (2020) SDSS-IV MaNGA: The link between bars and the early cessation of star formation in spiral galaxies in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Garma-Oehmichen L (2019) SDSS-IV MaNGA: Bar pattern speed estimates with the Tremaine-Weinberg method and their error sources in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Greener M (2021) SDSS-IV MaNGA: the 'G-dwarf problem' revisited in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters

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Greener Michael J. (2021) SDSS-IV MaNGA: the "G-dwarf problem" revisited in arXiv e-prints

 
Description EUCLID 
Organisation European Space Agency
Country France 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Scientific exploitation of data Computational support
Collaborator Contribution Scientific exploitation of data
Impact Scientific publications Space science
Start Year 2012
 
Description Euclid survey 
Organisation European Space Agency
Country France 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution I co-led the legacy science, and lead an analysis of how galaxy morphologies can be measured in the survey
Collaborator Contribution I co-led the legacy science, writing papers, carrying out research
Impact Paper on joint analysis with LSST science - Scientific Synergy between LSST and Euclid
Start Year 2011
 
Description GAMA - Galaxy and Mass Assembly 
Organisation University of St Andrews
Department School of Physics and Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Scientific Research Collaboration
Collaborator Contribution Scientific Research Collaboration
Impact Scientific Papers
Start Year 2011
 
Description HerMES - Herschel Multi-tiered Extragalactic Survey 
Organisation University of Sussex
Department School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences Sussex
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Scientific Research Collaboration
Collaborator Contribution Scientific Research Collaboration
Impact Scientific Papers
Start Year 2011
 
Description Herschel ATLAS - Cardiff 
Organisation University of Canterbury
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Scientific Research Collaboration
Collaborator Contribution Scientific Research Collaboration
Impact Scientific Research Collaboration
Start Year 2011
 
Description LOFAR - Low-Frequency Array 
Organisation ASTRON Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy
Country Netherlands 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Scientific Research Collaboration Financial Contribution
Collaborator Contribution Scientific Research Collaboration
Impact Scientific Publications
Start Year 2011
 
Description Lacegal - Latin American Chinese European GALaxy Formation network. 
Organisation Durham University
Department Institute for Computational Cosmology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Scientific Research Collaboration
Collaborator Contribution Scientific Research Collaboration Training of Researchers Financial contribution
Impact Scientific Papers Training of Researchers
Start Year 2011
 
Description SDSS Manga Survey 
Organisation University of Chicago
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution x
Collaborator Contribution x
Impact x
Start Year 2013
 
Description SDSS-IV/MaNGA 
Organisation Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-III)
Department Astrophysical Research Council
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Financial contribution. Scientific expertise. Research activity.
Collaborator Contribution Access to observing facilities. Access to new survey data. Scientific expertise. Research activity.
Impact This is a very recent activity. No outputs so far, but the main outputs will be scientific papers.
Start Year 2013
 
Description The 300 Collaboration 
Organisation Autonomous University of Madrid
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Pearce and Gray are members of the Scientific Organising Committee and active members of the collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution Ongoing science collaboration
Impact Outputs listed elsewhere.
Start Year 2016
 
Description The 300 Collaboration 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Department School of Physics and Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Pearce and Gray are members of the Scientific Organising Committee and active members of the collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution Ongoing science collaboration
Impact Outputs listed elsewhere.
Start Year 2016
 
Description The 300 Collaboration 
Organisation University of Western Australia
Country Australia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Pearce and Gray are members of the Scientific Organising Committee and active members of the collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution Ongoing science collaboration
Impact Outputs listed elsewhere.
Start Year 2016
 
Description The Sherwood simulation project 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department MRC Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (CFAS)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Project led by Bolton in Nottingham.
Collaborator Contribution Project led by Bolton in Nottingham.
Impact Outputs lsited elswhere.
Start Year 2016
 
Description UKIRT Hemisphere Survey 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Scientific collaboration and expertise
Collaborator Contribution Scientific collaboration and expertise
Impact Scientific papers
Start Year 2012
 
Description VANDELS 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Department School of Physics and Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Almaini is an active member of this consortium.
Collaborator Contribution Ongoing science collaboration.
Impact Outputs listed elsewhere.
Start Year 2014
 
Description VANDELS 
Organisation University of St Andrews
Department School of Physics and Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Almaini is an active member of this consortium.
Collaborator Contribution Ongoing science collaboration.
Impact Outputs listed elsewhere.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Virgo Consortium 
Organisation Durham University
Department Institute for Computational Cosmology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Scietific Research Collaboration
Collaborator Contribution Scietific Research Collaboration
Impact Scientific Papers
Start Year 2011
 
Description Inflativerse 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Ongoing programme to take mobile planitarium to local Nottingham-area schools, targetting widening participation areas.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/astronomy/planetarium/Home.html
 
Description Public talks and lectures 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Multiple talks to school groups and astronomical societies, in person and online
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Sixty Ideas 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Curated website for Sixty Symbols YouTube channel matched to A-level curriculum
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL http://nottingham.ac.uk/physics/sixtyideas
 
Description YouTube videos 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Created videos for Deep Sky Videos Youtube channel
242k subscribers
12 million video views since 2011
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL http://deepskyvideos.com
 
Description YouTube videos 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Participation in creating videos for YouTube channel Sixty Symbols.
823k subscribers
91 million video views since 2009
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL http://sixtysymbols.com