Birmingham Astrophysics - Rolling Grant 2007-2012

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy


The work of the Birmingham Astrophysics & Space Research group aims to improve our understanding of the Universe, and the force of gravity which governs its structure and growth. Our extragalactic studies aim to discover the way in which galaxies, such as our own Milky Way galaxy, have developed from the small fluctuations present in the primordial gas which filled the Universe after the Big Bang, as well as probing the mysterious 'dark matter' which appears to account for over 90% of the matter in the Universe at large. Our knowledge of the cosmos to date is gleaned almost entirely from study of the electromagnetic radiation (from radio waves to gamma rays) which reaches the Earth from space. However, a whole new astronomical 'window' is about to open, based on the propagating ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves. Detection of these signals is hugely demanding, but large laser-interferometers are now very close to detecting them for the first time, and the Birmingham group is fully involved in these experiments, and in the plans to move these techniques into space within the next decade. This will ultimately allow us to study the gravitational signals from giant black holes, and from the Big Bang itself. We are working towards the first detection of gravitational waves, but also exploring the new techniques which will be required to turn the study of gravitational waves into a true branch of astronomy.


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