Astrophysics at Oxford 2022 -2025

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics

Abstract

Astrophysics at Oxford spans three sub-departments and represents one of the largest research groups in the country with more than 125 researchers across all career stages. This consolidated grant proposal is for support across all of our areas of experimental and theoretical astrophysics.

We have a strong and diverse research portfolio. We are internationally recognised for our observational and theoretical work on cosmology, galaxy evolution, compact objects, astrophysical fluids and exoplanets. We furthermore develop world leading radio, sub-mm, optical and infrared instrumentation, providing new phase space that is ripe for scientific exploitation. We have invested in major international projects, which will deliver unprecedented datasets in the coming decade, including the European Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), and the Vera Rubin Observatory. We are also home to Zooniverse, the world's largest citizen science platform.

With this consolidated grant proposal and the research it delivers, we aim to advance the frontiers of astrophysics in all of our research areas. A large part of this effort is focussed on maximising the harvest of the large projects we have invested in for over a decade, and the tools and techniques we develop for delivering this science will be of benefit to the entire national and global astrophysics community. Amongst our science goals we seek to better understand the very earliest phases of the universe via studies of the cosmic microwave background, to probe the secrets of galaxy formation on the scale of both individual galaxies and their overall cosmic population, to test models for the production, internal physics and propagation of relativistic jets from black holes, and to observe and understand the atmospheres of extrasolar planets, that may one day be found to be the home of extraterrestrial life.

We are committed to open, reproducible science, and to public engagement which relays our discoveries and insights back to those who pay for it. To this end we endeavour to make all our scientific methods transparent, and - where possible - to make our data products publicly available. Early career researchers trained at Oxford, funded by this project, will transfer their knowledge to other sectors of our national economy. Our flagship public engagement and outreach projects include Zooniverse as well as local projects as part of STFC's Wonder initiative, and these all build off the core research which is funded by this grant.

Publications

10 25 50
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Jego B (2023) Constraining the physics of star formation from CIB-cosmic shear cross-correlations in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Martin-Alvarez S (2022) Towards convergence of turbulent dynamo amplification in cosmological simulations of galaxies in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Grisdale K (2022) On the viability of determining galaxy properties from observations - I. Star formation rates and kinematics in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Varadaraj R (2023) The bright end of the galaxy luminosity function at z ? 7 from the VISTA VIDEO survey in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Ponomareva A (2023) MIGHTEE-H i : the first MeerKAT H i mass function from an untargeted interferometric survey in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Katz H (2022) Mg  ii  in the JWST era: a probe of Lyman continuum escape? in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

 
Description Generative models for cosmology and astrophysics
Amount £15,000 (GBP)
Funding ID RGS\R1\221167 
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2022 
End 03/2023
 
Description SO:UK - A major UK contribution to Simons Observatory
Amount £1,141,162 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/X006395/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2022 
End 03/2030
 
Description UK involvement in LSST: Phase C (Oxford component)
Amount £955,937 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/X00127X/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2023 
End 03/2027
 
Description Atacama Cosmology Telescope - ACT 
Organisation Princeton University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am a science team member of ACT. My contribution has mostly focused on foreground studies: quantifying the level of Galactic contamination in the maps, providing foreground-corrected legacy maps and foreground avoidance masks. I have also started working on the development of some of the pipeline analysis elements for power spectrum studies in the next season's analysis.
Collaborator Contribution ACT is a ground-based CMB observatory located in the Chilean Atacama plateau. The collaboration provides the combined expertise of different teams to cover all of the steps in the scientific process, data acquisition, reduction, analysis and final cosmological constraints. My work has focus on the intermediate stages, connecting raw data products with science-ready observables.
Impact ACT is one of the most powerful ground-based observatories, and has been at the forefront of CMB science after the Planck mission. Of particular relevance for my research is the fact that ACT will be able to provide state-of-the-art data on CMB B-modes, which will be invaluable to educate the analysis strategies used by the Simons Obsevatory in its quest to put constraints on the amplitude of primordial gravitational waves. I have co-authored several ACT papers.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Einstein Telescope 
Organisation European Commission
Department Einstein Telescope
Country European Union (EU) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution I have contributed software and expertise to quantify the sensitivity of the Einstein Telescope to stochastic gravitational wave backgrounds, both isotropic and anisotropic.
Collaborator Contribution N/A
Impact A comprehensive review of the science achievable with ET and other ground-based observatory is currently being finalised and will soon be published.
Start Year 2022
 
Description LOFAR 
Organisation LOFAR
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I have actively contributed to the cosmology working group within LOFAR. In particular, together with collaborators at the Polish Academy of Sciences, I have led robust measurements and interpretation of the correlation between radio continuum galaxies and CMB secondary anisotropies. This will continue in future data releases of LOFAR, strengthening our understanding of systematics in radio continuum datasets for cosmology.
Collaborator Contribution LOFAR (Low Frequency Array) is currently the largest radio telescope operating at the lowest frequencies that can be observed from Earth. Unlike single-dish telescope, LOFAR is a multipurpose sensor network, with an innovative computer and network infrastructure that can handle extremely large data volumes. LOFAR's design makes it a uniquely good survey instrument. The individual dipoles are sensitive to most of the visible sky; the dipole arrays have a field of view of hundreds of square degrees at the lowest frequencies accessible to LOFAR. While LOFAR started as a national project in the Netherlands, it has now grown to encompass 9 European countries, including the United Kingdom. Among the main science targets of LOFAR are the Epoch of Reionization, transients and pulsars, high-redshift galaxies, and cosmology. These are well aligned with the objectives of this grant, and pave the way for future impact in SKA.
Impact I will co-author at least 3 different articles as part of the LOFAR cosmology working group. My partnership with LOFAR was motivated by my authorship of 10.1093/mnras/stab046, which used public LOFAR data from an earlier release made by the collaboration.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Large Synoptic Survey Telescope - LSST. Dark Energy Science Collaboration - DESC. 
Organisation LSST Corporation
Country United States 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution For 6 years I served as co-convener of the Large-Scale Structure working group for DESC. As such, I was in charge of coordinating the work needed to provide one of the key data products needed to obtain robust constraints on Dark Energy: summary statistics describing the clustering of galaxies on large scales. As part of this work, I am the lead developer of the software in charge of providing two-point functions in harmonic space for both galaxy clustering and weak gravitational lensing data. I am also heavily involved with the Theory and Joint Probes working group. Within it, I currently lead the development of the Core Cosmology Library, the collaboration's main engine for the production of reliable and efficient theoretical predictions. Finally, I currently co-lead the External Synergies working group, in charge of coordinating activities needed for the joint exploitation of Rubin Observatory data in conjunction with external datasets (e.g. CMB data from the Simons Observatory), and ensuring that needs for other external datasets (e.g. spectroscopic coverage) are met. Besides my scientific role, I am also a member of the DESC Collaboration Council, in charge of most policy issues for the collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution LSST is an 8.4-meter ground-based telescope that will carry out a wide and deep astronomical survey ~20,000 square degrees of the southern sky. LSST has the potential to provide ground-breaking constraints on the properties of the late-time accelerated expansion of the Universe. To achieve this goal, the DESC combines the skills of experts in the 5 main Dark Energy probes: large-scale structure, weak lensing, cluster science, supernovae and strong lenses. The members cover a wide range of skills: instrumentation, data management, data analysis and theory.
Impact LSST will dominate all cosmological constraints on low redshift phenomena from 2020. As part of the preparatory work carried out within the DESC, I have authored four papers since the award of this Fellowship (10.1093/mnras/stz093, 10.21105/astro.2108.13418, 10.1088/1475-7516/2020/03/044, 10.3847/1538-4365/abd62c).
Start Year 2015
 
Description Simons Observatory - SO 
Organisation Simons Observatory
Country Chile 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am co-leader for the B-modes Analysis Working Group of SO. As such, I am in charge of delivering one of the key science cases for the collaboration: constraining the amplitude of primordial gravitational waves from the properties of large-scale CMB B-modes. I also contribute to the foregrounds, power spectrum and Sunyaev Zel'dovich working groups. Besides my scientific roles, I am also a member of the Theory and Analysis Committee, overseeing the scientific exploitation plan of SO. I have also served in the SO Publication Panel. In 2019 I secured institutional membership of SO for the University of Oxford, such that current and future postdocs and students in my group can join the collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution SO combines the resources and infrastructure of two existing CMB observatories: the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (which I am also a member of) and the Simons Array, both located in Chile. The collaboration combines the skills of about 100 experts from more than 40 institutions around the world, covering areas from instrumentation to theoretical predictions. The construction of the Observatory is funded by the Simons and Heising-Simons foundations and with contribution from the US lead institutions.In 2019 I secured institutional membership of SO for the University of Oxford, such that current and future postdocs and students in my group can join the collaboration.
Impact SO will start taking data in 2023, and will then provide ground-breaking advances in cosmology, with primordial gravitational waves from B-modes being one of the main science drivers. Since joining the collaboration, I have co-authored more than 10 publications associated to SO.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Simons Observatory - SO 
Organisation Simons Observatory
Country Chile 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am co-leader for the B-modes Analysis Working Group of SO. As such, I am in charge of delivering one of the key science cases for the collaboration: constraining the amplitude of primordial gravitational waves from the properties of large-scale CMB B-modes. I also contribute to the foregrounds, power spectrum and Sunyaev Zel'dovich working groups. Besides my scientific roles, I am also a member of the Theory and Analysis Committee, overseeing the scientific exploitation plan of SO. I have also served in the SO Publication Panel. In 2019 I secured institutional membership of SO for the University of Oxford, such that current and future postdocs and students in my group can join the collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution SO combines the resources and infrastructure of two existing CMB observatories: the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (which I am also a member of) and the Simons Array, both located in Chile. The collaboration combines the skills of about 100 experts from more than 40 institutions around the world, covering areas from instrumentation to theoretical predictions. The construction of the Observatory is funded by the Simons and Heising-Simons foundations and with contribution from the US lead institutions.In 2019 I secured institutional membership of SO for the University of Oxford, such that current and future postdocs and students in my group can join the collaboration.
Impact SO will start taking data in 2023, and will then provide ground-breaking advances in cosmology, with primordial gravitational waves from B-modes being one of the main science drivers. Since joining the collaboration, I have co-authored more than 10 publications associated to SO.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Square Kilometre Array - SKA 
Organisation SKA Square Kilometre Array
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I have coordinated the Cosmological Simulations focus group as part of the Cosmology Science Working Group. As a member of the SKA I have been mostly interested in the use of intensity mapping and continuum surveys for cosmology, as well as synergies with optical and CMB experiments.
Collaborator Contribution The Square Kilometre Array is a large multi radio telescope, the first phase of which is being built in Australia and in the South African Karoo desert. SKA is a multi-science facility targeting a wide range of objectives, such as pulsar science, galaxy evolution, epoch of reionization or cosmology. The members of SKA cover all areas of expertise needed for this experiment, from instrumentation to theory predictions. The focus of the Cosmology Science Working Groups covers mostly the last stages of the analysis process: data analysis and theoretical constraints.
Impact When SKA Phase 1 finishes construction, it will constitute a tremendous improvement in terms of statistical power with respect to existing facilities, and will therefore dominate any advances in the field.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Dark Matter Day 2022 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Each year the world celebrates the historic hunt for the unseen-something that we refer to as dark matter. Global, regional, and local events are being planned on and around 31 Oct by institutions and individuals looking to engage the public in discussions about what we already know about dark matter and the many present as well as planned experiments seeking to solve its mysteries.

Join us to celebrate on Tuesday 1st November 2022 (7-8.30pm)

Oxford hunts high and low for dark matter!

Join our researchers who explore dark matter on both the cosmic and most fundamental scales for a discussion about how we may solve one of the greatest mysteries of the universe. The event will consist of short online talks, interactive activities followed by a panel discussion and plenty of time for questions from the audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.physics.ox.ac.uk/events/dark-matter-day-2022-complete-story-dark-matter-so-far
 
Description Into The Comos (large-scale public outreach event) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Oxford Astrophysics, supported by the central Physics department outreach team, staged a major event in our building on Jan 21, 2023. Nearly 1000 people attended, and we put on a range of talks, hands-on demonstrations, tours of the observatory, mobile planetarium shows and hands-on stargazing. Many people funded partially or wholly by this STFC CG (including the PI) took part in what was a very successful event with a large impact.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
URL https://www.physics.ox.ac.uk/news/journey-cosmos