The University Of Birmingham-Astronomy

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The University Of Birmingham-Astronomy

The University Of Birmingham (Astrophysics)
Dept: Astrophysics and Space Research
Head of Department: Professor G.M. Simnett
Courses offered: PhD (3-4 years)
Studentships available: PPARC and University
Average intake: 5 (PhD)
Entry requirements:

General Information
The Astrophysics and Space Research group at the University of Birmingham undertakes world class research in several areas of astrophysics and has an active program in developing space hardware for a number of satellite observatories. The group consists of 10 academic staff and nearly 50 postdocs, technical staff and Ph.D students. The main fields of research are:

  • Extragalactic Astrophysics – the extragalactic group aims to probe the structure and evolution of the Universe through studies of objects on scales from star clusters to superclusters of galaxies, using multiwavelength observations coupled with advanced data analysis techniques and hydrodynamical modelling. Hot gas (which dominates the baryonic content of many systems) is a special interest,m and the group makes substantial use of the two current major X-ray observations, Chandra and XMM-Newton, as well as optical, infrared and radio telescopes.
  • Gravitational Physics and Astronomy – The Birmingham group is at the forefront of the development of gravitational waves as a new probe of the Universe. We are involved in the major ground-based gravitational wave detectors, GEO600 and LIGO, which will be delivering data over the next few years, and are constructing an in-house computational facility to address the challenging task of detection of signatures of cosmic signals in the large volumes of data. The group is also applying its space expertise in the design for the major ESA space-based gravitational wave detector LISA, and us developing an innovative high frequency G-wave detector in the lab.
  • Solar and Heliospheric Physics – the scientific thrust of the group is to understand the physics of the inner Heliosphere from the low corona, to well beyond the orbit of the Earth. This is achieved using instruments on missions such as Ulysses (exploring the Heliosphere) and SOHO (the solar corona). The Solar Mass Ejection Imager is scheduled for launch in December 2002. This instrument will allow the study of "Space Weather" and predict the impact of solar ejecta on the Earth. Two new instruments are being built (under collaboration); the EUV Imaging Spectrometer (ICE) for the Japanese Solar-B spacecraft, and the Heliospheric Imager for the NASA Stereo mission.
  • Galactic Astronomy – active groups are working in the areas of X-ray binary research (with special interest in dipping sources and other low mass X-ray binaries) and in the study of hot stars (especially observations and simulations of radiatively driven winds).
In addition to our PPARC studentships, a programme of School-funded 4 year Postgraduate Teaching Assistantships enables a wide range of teaching experience to be obtained whilst carrying out research for a Ph.D. The Group has well equipped electronics and mechanical workshops and test facilities. It also has a carbon-fibre fabrication facility for the manufacture of lightweight structures. The computing facilities are based on a large cluster of Unix workstations and we are in the process of developing a 128 node Beowulf cluster to support the gravitational wave research.


Contact Details
Dr. Ian StevensSchool of Physics and Astronomy
The University of Birmingham
B15 2TT
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