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E. A. Milne Centre for Astrophysics


Established in October 2015, the E.A. Milne Centre for Astrophysics at The University of Hull plays a crucial role in energising the Humber. It was established to spearhead research, teaching, and outreach activities within physics.

E.A. Milne Centre for Astrophysics
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Brad Gibson
Director, E. A. Milne Centre for Astrophysics

The Challenge

Where did the Universe come from? What are stars made of? How were galaxies created? What is gravity? Is there life in the Universe? The E.A. Milne Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Hull is taking a fresh and dynamic approach to the big questions that have fascinated humankind for thousands of years.

As a powerful overarching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) enabler, the Milne Centre provides focus for the region, building on its considerable research, engagement, and teaching portfolio. We strive to widen participation and drive the diversity agenda for STEM – the centre is leading a successful campaign (“Changing the face of physics”) that has already resulted in Hull Physics having one of the most diverse student population in the country.


The Approach

From the Big Bang to black holes, and from quantum mechanics to the theory of everything, Our world-leading experts pursue explanations for the wonders of the Universe and then share their awe-inspiring discoveries with students, schools and the public to ignite the passions of the Einsteins and Hawkings of tomorrow.



We aim to follow in the footsteps of the Hull-born physicist and mathematician Edward Arthur Milne whose pioneering work on cosmology paved the way for our modern understanding of the history and evolution of the Universe.

Our research portfolio is closely aligned with Milne's work, spanning the structure of spiral galaxies, atmospheres of stars, and cosmology and the early universe.



Stellar Physics

We explain and predict how elements are made in stars and then ejected in space, by using theoretical stellar models that live and evolve in supercomputers.


Solar Physics

Our research focusses on solar magnetism where we use acoustic waves, like the ones produced by sunquakes, to learn more about the internal processes of the Sun.


Galaxy and Galaxy-Cluster Physics

One of the most important and unanswered questions in modern astrophysics is how do galaxies form and evolve? Our research is disentangling the effects of processes that determine the future evolution pathways of galaxies.


Astrochemistry and Astrobiology

We use high-performance computers to compute vibrational and electronic signatures of (bio-)molecules adsorbed on icy dust grains, comets, silicates and inside clathrates.


Gravitational waves


We investigate theories that explain the large-scale structure and evolution of the Universe. We use current observational data (e.g. the detection of gravitational waves) to constrain competing cosmological theories. Our research is interdisciplinary, straddling mathematics, statistics, data science and computing. Our cosmology research is performed in collaboration with the Mathematics research group.

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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

Galactic Archaeology

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.

Galaxy Evolution

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

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.

Large-Scale Structures

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

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.


Outputs and publications

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E.A. Milne Centre for Astrophysics

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