Solar and Stellar Physics
Stellar Nucleosynthesis and Cosmochemistry
Stars are evolving, and nuclear reactions in the centre change their composition, producing new elements. Carbon, oxygen, sodium, iron, gold are all “baked” in stars. This project will explain and predict how these elements are made in stars and then ejected in space, by using theoretical stellar models that live and evolve in supercomputers.
The Magnetic Sun
The Sun is our nearest star giving us the light and energy needed to sustain our lives. It is very active with many magnificent features continuously observed on its surface and up in the atmosphere. Our group leads research into flare seismology and sunquakes. And from our solar studies, we learn about the fundamental physical processes taking place in other stars.
Astrochemistry and Astrobiology
Interstellar Dust and Ices
This project focuses on using techniques developed in theoretical chemistry to compute vibrational signatures and electronic signatures of molecules adsorbed on dust grain models. Our unique approach combines the most accurate methods of quantum chemistry with advanced nuclear dynamics theory. This has implications for areas including planetary formation and the origins of life.
Galaxy and Galaxy-Cluster Physics
We use supercomputers to recreate simulations of our corner of the Universe, which is observed with ‘artificial telescopes’ that view computer data in the same way that real telescopes observe the night sky. These ‘chemical fingerprints’ can be used to identify the locations in the Galaxy most likely to harbour Earth-like rocky planets and complex biological life.
One of the most important and unanswered questions in modern astrophysics is how do galaxies form and evolve? By using telescopic observations from across the globe as well as satellites in orbit, alongside novel simulations of galaxies at critical points in their lives, our research is disentangling the processes that can determine the future evolution pathways of galaxies.
Galaxy clusters are the largest structures in the Universe. By combining simulations and observations, we study their evolution. We model the growth of clusters and the evolution of cluster galaxies on national and international supercomputers, and obtain data with ground-based and space-based observatories at, for example, X-ray, radio and optical wavelengths.
Cosmological and High-Energy Physics
The Early Universe
Where do stars and galaxies come from? The theory of cosmological inflation is currently the leading theory to explain the origin of structures in the Universe, and is consistent with observation from various satellites and telescopes. Our research investigates how various observations and experiments can work together to help rule out competing models of inflation.
Our research focuses on cosmology not only from massive galaxy clusters and giant cosmic voids, but also diffuse gases in the early Universe – the 'intergalactic medium'. Understanding the distribution and physical properties of the intergalactic medium is a challenge which will be tackled with the upcoming Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescopes.
String theory gives important insights into new areas of mathematics and is currently the best-developed proposal for a consistent theory of quantum gravity. Our research is focused on trying to understand string theory in a background-independent way and to understand how conventional classical notions of spacetime are modified by quantum effects.