X-ray and Observational Astronomy is the largest research group in the department, comprising 12 academic staff, 33 research/support staff and 16 PhD students. A full list of group members and contact details can be viewed here.
The group originated in the early 1960s and has been a world leader in X-ray Astronomy ever since. More recently, activities have diversified across the whole electromagnetic spectrum into gamma ray, UV, visible and infra-red astronomy using both space and ground-based observatories. For a history of the group see the Group History page.
Our main current research programme is summarised below and more detailed information can be found on the relevant project web pages by following the appropriate links.
Current Research, Projects and Data Centres
Our current astrophysics research is very wide-ranging, encompassing:
- Extragalactic and galactic surveys
- Gamma-ray burst astrophysics
- Active galactic nuclei
- Normal and star forming galaxies
- The Galactic Centre
- X-ray binaries and cataclysmic variables
- Supernova remnants
- White dwarf, red dwarf and brown dwarf stars
- Searches for extra-solar planets
We are participants in a number of active space and ground-based
For some of these we have key roles such as in the provision of instrumentation, data analysis software or archival services:
- The ESA XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory
- The NASA Swift mission (gamma and X-ray)
- SuperWASP - Wide Angle Search for Planets (optical)
- UKIDSS large area infra-red survey
- The Chandra X-Ray Observatory
We have significant guest observer and archival programmes on major
- Hubble Space Telescope (UV, optical and infra-red)
- Far-Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (far ultraviolet)
- Spitzer (infra-red)
- GALEX (far ultraviolet)
The group also has full access to a wide range of telescopes including, the Gemini 8-m telescopes, the Isaac Newton Group telescopes on La Palma (including the Liverpool Robotic Telescope), UKIRT and the JCMT on Hawaii. The UK is also a member of the European Southern Observatory and has access to all ESO facilities, including the Very Large Telescopes and the forthcoming VISTA and VST surveys.
- XMM-Newton Science Survey Centre
- UK Swift Science Data Centre
- Leicester Database & Archive Service (LEDAS)
- Astrogrid and the European Virtual Observatory
Images above are (top) schematic of a gamma ray burst and (middle) the Hubble Space Telescope.