Institute of Astronomy
About this community
The Institute of Astronomy (IoA) came into being in 1972 by the amalgamation of three institutions which had developed on the site. These were the Cambridge University Observatory which was established in 1823, the Solar Physics Observatory (1912) and the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy (1967).
The IoA is a department of the University of Cambridge and is engaged in teaching and research in the fields of theoretical and observational Astronomy. A wide class of theoretical problems are studied, ranging from models of quasars and of the evolution of the universe, through theories of the formation and evolution of galaxies and stars, X-ray sources and black holes.
Much observational work centres around the use by staff of large telescopes abroad and in space to study quasars, galaxies and the chemical constitution of stars. A programme on the velocities of stars is conducted using the 36-inch telescope in Cambridge. Instrumentation development is also an important area of activity, involving charge coupled devices and detector arrays for rapid recording of very faint light and the design and construction of novel spectrographs.
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Supermassive black holes (SMBHs) at the centres of galaxies are known to actively accrete, forming so-called `active galactic nuclei' (AGN) or `quasars'. These AGN are believed to feed back energy into their host galaxies, ...
Since their introduction in 1972 by Clutton-Brock, so-called biorthogonal basis sets have become a popular tool in galactic dynamics. They provide a method of solving Poisson's equation that scales linearly with the number ...
(2020-11-28)In recent years, theories of gravity incorporating a scalar field coupled to gravity---'scalar-tensor' theories---have been subject to increased attention. In these theories, the scalar field mediates gravitational-strength ...
(2020-09-30)As the study of rocky exo-planets enters an era of characterisation, the ability to determine how similar a planet is to the Earth, and thus if it is potentially habitable, is fast approaching. An understanding of the ...