X-ray and Observational Astronomy Group

xmmThe X-ray and Observational Astronomy Group (XROA) is one of the world's leaders in high energy and observational astrophysics. Founded by space science pioneer Professor Ken Pounds, the Group has a broad multi-wavelength research programme which aims to answer many of the most interesting questions in modern astrophysics. These include exploring the variety of extra-solar planets, understanding the birth and death of stars, explaining the origin of gamma-ray bursts, determining the properties of galaxies and active galaxies and using extragalactic surveys to investigate the structure of the Universe.

Our observational programme in X-ray astronomy uses the world's two most powerful X-ray facilities, XMM-Newton and Chandra and the new ASTROSAT mission. The Group is also home to the highly successful UK Swift Science Data Centre. Swift makes prompt multi-wavelength observations of gamma-ray bursts and their associated afterglows, and the UK team helps to analyse these data and disseminate the information quickly to astronomers around the world.

We support our high energy astrophysics programme with complementary observations in the ultraviolet, optical and infra-red, wavelength regions which are also crucial for our white dwarf, brown dwarf and extra-solar planet studies. The group is heavily involved in the search for extra-solar planets using the new NGTS facility.

We also collaborate with the Space Instrumentation Group based in the University's Space Research Centre in developing new mission concepts. Looking to the future, we have strong roles in the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), in ESA's GAIA astrometry mission, in the China/France SVOM mission, in NASA/ESA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), and in the China-ESA SMILE mission. Longer-term there is the prospect of a major new International X-ray Observatory (Athena) which is currently being studied by both ESA and NASA and to which we are contributing expertise and design effort.

For further details of our research, please go to the General Information page.

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