Research Interests

Research in the Astronomy Unit includes theoretical work in a variety of research areas, space experiments, and ground-based observations. Current interests of the academic staff are listed below, while those of the post-doctoral researchers within the Astronomy Unit may be found here.

Astronomy Unit Academic Staff

Craig Agnor investigates the origin of planets and satellites. His theoretical research examines orbital dynamics during planetary accretion and migration, the consequences of giant collisions between planets, and the capture and orbital evolution of planetary satellites.

David Burgess is studying the connections between the Sun, the Earth's magnetosphere and solar wind. Using large clusters of computers, he develops models of the solar wind, especially the shocks, waves and turbulence it contains.

Bernard Carr is particularly interested in the early universe, primordial black holes, Population II stars, dark matter, cosmological solutions of Einstein's equations and the anthropic principle.

James Cho is working on characterizing the physical properties of extrasolar planets using computer simulations and analytical methods. He is interested in studying dynamical mechanisms that transport or mix momentum, heat and tracers in atmospheres and discs.

Richard Donnison's main interests are solar system dynamics, and cometary and asteroid statistics. He also researches Kuiper belt objects and extrasolar planets.

Jim Emerson headed the £38.5 million VISTA project, a 4-meter Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. He exploits the results from its six public surveys and also studies accretion processes and magnetic fields associated with solar-mass stars forming in our galaxy.

James Lidsey is looking back to the first second of the history of the universe. In particular, he is researching the inflationary scenario, primoridal gravitational waves, primoridal black holes, higher dimensional theories, the formation of large-scale structure in the universe, and the cosmological aspects of superstrings and M-theory.

Karim Malik is interested in the physics of the early universe, in particular in perturbation theory and its applications to cosmology and the formation of large scale structure. Recent research topics included inflation and non-gaussianity, primordial black holes, and brane world models.

Carl Murray is a member of the Imaging Team on the Cassini mission to Saturn. He is interested in all aspects of solar system dynamics, from the motion of cosmic dust particles to the stability of planetary orbits.

Richard Nelson often uses state-of-the-art computer simulations in his studies of the formation and evolution of extrasolar planetary systems, the structure and evolution of accretion discs, star formation and the dynamical evolution of molecular clouds.

Alexander Polnarev is working on the feasibility of detecting polarisation of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Other interests include supermassive binary black holes and their interaction with stars and accretion discs.

Will Sutherland uses wide-field observational surveys in cosmology and to study galaxies.

Reza Tavakol researches a wide variety of topics including solar and stellar variability, nonlinear stellar dynamos, nonlinar dynamics, relativistic cosmology, the early universe, and the cosmological aspects of superstrings and M-theory.

David Tsiklauri  has a research programme concerned with the investigation of: solar coronal heating problem;various wave modes in inhomogeneous space plasmas and magnetic reconnection (in the solar corona and solar wind); solar flares; large scale numerical simulations (Vlasov, Particle-in-Cell and Magnetohydrodynamic); theoretical modeling of radio emission from solar flare electrons (Type III solar radio bursts), and interpretation of LOFAR radio data; analytical calculations.

Sergei Vorontsov is investigating the internal structure and dynamics of the sun using helioseismology.

Iwan Williams is interested in the dynamics and physical properties of the various minor bodies of the solar system. His research involves him in various theoretical studies and ground-based observations, as well as the CONSERT experiment on the ROSETTA mission.

Astronomy Unit Research Staff

Nick Cooper is a Cassini Imaging Team associate working on the dynamics of Saturn's small satellites and their relationship with the rings. His interests include orbit determination and the study of chaos and resonance in the dynamics of solar system bodies.

Oliver Gressel's research interests are focused around turbulent accretion discs as the environment of planet formation. This includes numerical simulation of magnetohydrodynamic turbulence and its effects on the growth of planetesimals and protoplanets.

Ian Huston investigates the cosmology of the early universe and in particular the inflationary scenario. His research topics include cosmological perturbation theory and non-canonical inflationary models.

Ian Roxburgh investigates the internal structure and evolution of the stars, often through asteroseismological techniques. He is also interested in theories of gravity and experimental tests.

Yiannis Tsapras is actively engaged in searches for extra-solar planets using the method of microlensing. He also has a keen interest in transit surveys and CMB cosmology.

Gareth Williams designs observation sequences for the Imaging Team on the Cassini mission at Saturn. He is interested in solar system dynamics such as applications of the 3-body problem which include ring dynamics and horseshoe orbits.