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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Gravitational lensing is a rare phenomenon which requires the exact alignment between a distant source and a massive foreground galaxy. The light from the source is bent around the galaxy forming spectacular rings, arcs ...
No astronomical body is alone - some fraction of the mass of a system will always be found in orbiting bodies, ranging from fragmented debris to planets, stars and compact objects. In general we ‘see’ the brighter component: ...
(1972)Computational studies of the classical gravitational N-body problem have demonstrated the importance in bound systems of energetic binaries formed dynamically. Since analytic and some numerical studies generally neglect ...
Stars are born with gas-rich protoplanetary discs that typically survive for a few Myr before dispersing, after which they are left with the planetary bodies that formed within the protoplanetary system: planets, and belts ...