Nial Tanvir

photoLecturer in Physics and Astronomy

BSc (Hons), PhD (Durham)

Tel: +44 (0)116 223 1217


Office: Physics and Astronomy, Room G20

Personal details

BSc (Hons), PhD

I obtained my BSc in Mathematics and Physics at the University of Durham. I stayed in Durham to do a PhD entitled "Resolved Stars in External Galaxies" under the supervision of Dick Fong and Tom Shanks. After a short post-doc in Durham, I moved to the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge where I was a member of the UK Hubble Space Telescope Support Facility. In 1999 I was appointed as a lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, and in 2006 moved to Leicester as Professor of Astronomy. I have sat on many scientific advisory committees, and in 2002 was the co-recipient of the European Union Descartes Prize for Research, recognising pioneering contributions to the study of gamma-ray burst afterglows. I was awarded a PPARC Senior Fellowship in 2005.

Science communication

I am actively involved in public outreach, giving frequent talks to schools, societies and public audiences, and making occasional TV and radio appearances.


  • Waves and Quanta, PA1140
  • Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and Particles, PA2260
  • Cosmology, PA3622
  • Undergraduate tutorials and projects
  • Post-graduate Journal Club


Selected publications

"Determination of the Hubble constant from observations of Cepheid variables in the galaxy M96", Tanvir N R et al., Nature, Volume 377, Issue 6544, pp. 27-31 (1995), 10.1038/377027a0

"Galaxy morphology to I=25 mag in the Hubble Deep Field", Abraham R G, Tanvir N R et al., Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 279, Issue 3, pp. L47-L52 (1996),

"Transient optical emission from the error box of the gamma-ray burst of 28 February 1997", van Paradijs J et al., Nature, Volume 386, Issue 6626, pp. 686-689 (1997), 10.1038/386686a0

"An unusual supernova in the error box of the γ-ray burst of 25 April 1998", Galama T J et al., Nature, Volume 395, Issue 6703, pp. 670-672 (1998), 10.1038/27150

"Detection of intergalactic red-giant-branch stars in the Virgo cluster", Ferguson H C, Tanvir N R, von Hippel T, Nature, vol. 391,, p. 461 (1998), 10.1038/35087

"A giant stream of metal-rich stars in the halo of the galaxy M31", Ibata R et al., Nature, Volume 412, Issue 6842, pp. 49-52 (2001), 10.1038/35083506

"A very energetic supernova associated with the gamma-ray burst of 29 March 2003", Hjorth J et al., Nature, Volume 423, Issue 6942, pp. 847-850 (2003), 10.1038/nature01750

"A new population of extended, luminous star clusters in the halo of M31", Huxor A P, Tanvir N R et al., Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 360, Issue 3, pp. 1007-1012 (2005), 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2005.09086.x

"Long γ-ray bursts and core-collapse supernovae have different environments", Fruchter A S et al., Nature, Volume 441, Issue 7092, pp. 463-468 (2006), 10.1038/nature04787

"A gamma-ray burst at a redshift of z~8.2", Tanvir N R et al., Nature, Volume 461, Issue 7268, pp. 1254-1257 (2009), 10.1038/nature08459

"Star Formation in the Early Universe: Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg", Tanvir N R et al., The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 754, Issue 1, article id. 46, 13 pp. (2012), 10.1088/0004-637X/754/1/46

"A `kilonova' associated with the short-duration gamma-ray burst GRB130603B", Tanvir N R et al., Nature, Volume 500, Issue 7464, pp. 547-549 (2013), 10.1038/nature12505


My early research was devoted primarily to improving the extragalactic distance scale, culminating in an estimate of the Hubble Constant (H0=69+/-8 km/s/Mpc) in 1995 based on HST observations of Cepheids in the galaxy M96, which is in very good agreement with modern determinations.  While at Cambridge I broadened my interests, working on both nearby and distant galaxy evolution studies.  In 1997 I began research on gamma-ray bursts, and this subject has been the increasing focus of my subsequent endeavours, although I continue to make contributions to the study of galaxy evolution, particularly Local Group galaxies.

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