The University Of Bristol

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The University Of Bristol

The University Of Bristol
Dept: Physics
Head of Department: Professor Bob Evans
Courses offered: Ph.D (3 years), MSc (1 year by research)
Studentships available: STFC, EPSRC
Average intake: 2 for PhD, 1-2 for MSc
Entry requirements: For PhD: normally a 1st or 2.1 honours degree in Physics or Mathematics (or a 2.2 enhanced by a masters degree).
For MSc (by research): normally a 1st or 2nd class degree in Physics, Mathematics or a closely related field.

General Information
The Department of Physics at the University of Bristol hosts a vigorous and expanding Astrophysics Group headed by Professor M Birkinshaw. Currently active research programmes include the following:

  • The Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Effect. The scattering of the microwave background radiation by gas in clusters of galaxies is used to study cluster atmospheres and as a tool to measure the parameters that define the large-scale structure of the Universe.
  • Observational Cosmology. The investigation of the numbers and properties of faint, distant galaxies can give clues to the processes involved in the formation and evolution of galaxies and to the overall nature of the Universe itself. Our observational work uses ground-based large telescopes as well as data from the Hubble Space telescope.
  • Active Galaxies. We make use of both satellite and terrestrial observations to study the physics of active galaxies. The X-ray and radio properties form a particular focus of our work, in which we study the inner geometry and radiation mechanisms as well as the effect of hot gaseous environments on radio-source propagation and evolution.
  • Black Holes. Gas falling towards a supermassive black hole can produce tremendous quantities of radiation, often outshining an entire galaxy, and can also very high velocity outflows such as relativiostic jets. The feedback between inflowing gas and outflowing jets and radiation plays an important role in regulating galaxy and galaxy cluster formation.
  • Distant radio sources. Many radio loud quasars and radio galaxies are in clusters of galaxies so targeting fields around them is a very efficient way to discover distant gravitationally bound systems of galaxies.
  • Galaxy Surveys. We are carrying out surveys of galaxy clusters in order to study the member galaxies. By obtaining spectra for complete samples of objects, regardless of their apparent image morphology, we are able to investigate, for example, compact dwarf galaxies with no bias due to pre-selection of likely looking targets.
  • Low Surface Brightness Galaxies. The majority of galaxies in clusters are, in fact, small and of low surface brightness. Our programme aims to elucidate the true extent of this elusive class of galaxies.
  • X-Ray Clusters. W Observatiions show that the gas in clusters is so hot that it emits in X-rays and, further, that a great deal of other mass must be present within the cluster in order to prevent the plasma escaping. We are using X-ray, radio and optical telescopes to explore the contents of such clusters.
  • The Ionised Interstellar Medium. By using telescopes equipped with narrow band interference filters, we are able to undertake large area imaging in the H-alpha line and hence trace out the distribution of ionised gas in the Galactic disc.


Contact Details
Tracie Anderson, Physics Graduate School SecretaryDepartment of Physics
University of Bristol
Tyndall Avenue
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