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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Heywood I (2023) A new pulsar candidate in 47 Tucanae discovered with MeerKAT imaging in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters

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Ruffa I (2024) A fundamental plane of black hole accretion at millimetre wavelengths in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters

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Choi W (2023) WISDOM Project - XV. Giant molecular clouds in the central region of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 5806 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Zhuravleva I (2023) Indirect measurements of gas velocities in galaxy clusters: effects of ellipticity and cluster dynamic state in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Rowan C (2023) Black hole binary formation in AGN discs: from isolation to merger in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Williams T (2023) WISDOM Project - XVII. Beam-by-beam properties of the molecular gas in early-type galaxies 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 ESA 
Organisation European Space Agency
Country France 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Development of in-orbit analysis software for the Euclid mission.
Collaborator Contribution Development and funding of the Euclid mission.
Impact Ongoing development of in-orbit data analysis.
Start Year 2011
 
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 Euclid Consortium 
Organisation Paris Institute of Astrophysics
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Development of Euclid mission data analysis.
Collaborator Contribution Specification of Euclid mission requirements to European Space Agency. Coordination of Euclid mission analysis development across Europe and USA. Coordination with European Space Agency.
Impact Ongoing development of Euclid mission analysis and specification of mission performance.
Start Year 2011
 
Description KiDS weak lensing survey 
Organisation Leiden University
Department Leiden Observatory
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I was responsible for the development of the PSF modelling and weak lensing shear measurement used for the KiDS weak lensing survey analysis, and have contributed to most of the major publications from this survey.
Collaborator Contribution KiDS is a large ground based survey aimed primarily at cosmological analysis. Partners have been involved in data collection, analysis, measurement, cosmology analysis and publications.
Impact Science data releases - see link above. Scientific publications.
Start Year 2015
 
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 The MIGHTEE Survey 
Organisation University of the Western Cape
Department Department of Physics
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am the PI of the survey
Collaborator Contribution This is an international collaboration led by myself, manhy members over a range of institutes lead papers based on the data from the survye. This data itself is processed by Ian Heywood in Oxford and science verification is carried out by myself with other members of the Oxford group.
Impact Publications as listed
Start Year 2010
 
Description X-KAT 
Organisation Brera Astronomical Observatory
Country Italy 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Oxford leads the programme, and co-leads analysis of the MeerKAT radio data.
Collaborator Contribution Brera/INFAF coordinates the accompanying X-ray programme on Swift. SARAO partners in executing the programme. University of Cape Town (and other SA universities) contribute to data analysis and interpretation. There are multiple other more minor partners contributing to observations and analysis.
Impact Several astronomers telegrams, some excellent new results on jets from X-ray binaries (some programmes ongoing and/or papers in prep).
Start Year 2023
 
Description X-KAT 
Organisation South African Radio Astronomy Observatory
Country South Africa 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Oxford leads the programme, and co-leads analysis of the MeerKAT radio data.
Collaborator Contribution Brera/INFAF coordinates the accompanying X-ray programme on Swift. SARAO partners in executing the programme. University of Cape Town (and other SA universities) contribute to data analysis and interpretation. There are multiple other more minor partners contributing to observations and analysis.
Impact Several astronomers telegrams, some excellent new results on jets from X-ray binaries (some programmes ongoing and/or papers in prep).
Start Year 2023
 
Description X-KAT 
Organisation University of Cape Town
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Oxford leads the programme, and co-leads analysis of the MeerKAT radio data.
Collaborator Contribution Brera/INFAF coordinates the accompanying X-ray programme on Swift. SARAO partners in executing the programme. University of Cape Town (and other SA universities) contribute to data analysis and interpretation. There are multiple other more minor partners contributing to observations and analysis.
Impact Several astronomers telegrams, some excellent new results on jets from X-ray binaries (some programmes ongoing and/or papers in prep).
Start Year 2023
 
Description Archean and Proterozoic CLimate 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I was interviewed extensively for a BBC/PBS (Nova) television series on the Early Earth. In these interviews I communicated many of the issues pertinent to my Consolidated Grant project, particularly the deep carbon cycle and how it affects transition to globally glaciated states.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/series/ancient-earth/
 
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 Diversity of Planetary Climates: New revelations in the era of the James Webb Space Telescope 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited presentation at American Physical Society March Meeting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2024
URL https://march.aps.org/
 
Description Exoplanets: The New Frontier 
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 I gave a series of general-audience presentations at the Sligo Science Festival, Sligo, Republic of Ireland. This included a "pint of science" presentation and presentations to several science classes at the Sligo Grammar School
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
URL https://www.itsligo.ie/sligosciencefestival
 
Description General Circulation of Tide-locked exoplanet atmospheres 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a presentation at the Math+X workshop, funded by the Simons Foundation, which took place in Iceland. This workshop had as its goal developing synergies between physical science practitioners (my role was in planetary atmospheres) and leading-edge researchers in machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
 
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
 
Description Invited principle lecturer CIDER summer school on planetary geophysics 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The Berkeley (US) CIDER summer school is one of the most prestigious and selective summer schools for postgraduate students and PDRA's in the area of Earth and Planetary Science. I delivered a series of lectures on the deep carbon cycle and habitability, reporting on my work in progress that is part of my Consolidated Grant project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.deep-earth.org/summer22
 
Description Invited seminars: Universidad Autonoma Madrid, SISSA, Imperial College, University of Zurich, Portsmouth, Newcastle, University of the Western Cape, CEA Saclay 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Invited scientific seminars and colloquia at different universities or research institutions aimed at other researchers, including graduate and undergraduate students, in cosmology and astrophysics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022,2023,2024
 
Description MIT Houghton Lectures 2023 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact As the named MIT Houghton Lecturer for 2023, I delivered six lectures on exoplanet climate dynamics. Two of these were explicitly devoted to results of my Consolidated Grant project, specifically concerning silicate weathering and the deep carbon cycle.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
 
Description Simons Observatory BB Hackathon 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Specialised workshop to develop the analysis pipelines for primordial B-modes in the Simons Observatory. Organised by my group at Oxford, attended by international members of the Simons Observatory Collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023,2024
 
Description Talk at International conferences: Kyoto, DIPC, Dutch Theoretical Cosmology meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Invited speaker at international conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023,2024
 
Description The diversity of exoplanet climate 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This was a presentation to Fysikdagarna, a Swedish national conference for secondary school science teachers. Many secondary school students also attended.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
URL https://indico.fysik.su.se/event/7762/
 
Description UNIQ summer school 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Summer school for disadvantaged students hosted by Oxford
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021,2022,2023
URL http://www.uniq.ox.ac.uk/
 
Description What is the age of the Universe? 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public outreach activity involving high-school student, showing how to calculate the current expansion rate from galaxy data and what the associated age of the Universe is.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2024