Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy

Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy

Foundation: 2015 marked the 40th anniversary of the renaissance of observational astronomy and cosmology in the Department of Physics at Durham University. This activity has grown substantially over this period and we are now one of the largest astronomy groups in the UK and Europe, hosting world-class activities in observational extragalactic astronomy and cosmology, encompassing the formation and evolution of galaxies, clusters and large scale structure. To mark this anniversary and to recognise the scale of the observational research activity at Durham, in 2015 we founded the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy (CEA). Together with the associated astronomy research centres focusing on theoretical and instrumentation development, the CEA provides a rich research environment to enhance productivity by fostering cross-disciplinary collaboration. As a result Durham is ranked Number One in Europe and fourth in the world for our research into Space Science (which covers research into astronomy and astrophysics) over the decade 1998-2008, according to the league table by Thomson Reuters ESI published in the Times.

Assistant Professor in Observational Astronomy
The Department of Physics at Durham University seeks to appoint a talented individual to the role of Assistant Professor in Observational Astronomy. The deadline for applications is Thursday, January 3, 2019 - the position will start around October 2019. See our AAS Job Register entry for full details and how to apply.
Open PDRA positions within the CEA and ICC
We invite applications for postdoctoral positions within the broad area of extragalactic astronomy and cosmology at the Durham University. We currently have several open postdoctoral positions, including:
  • Observational studies of galaxy formation [STFC funded] The successful candidate will primarily exploit the KMOS guaranteed time observations of ~1000 star-forming galaxies at z~1-2, as well as lead the exploitation of a new VLT/KMOS Large Program. More information can be found at at this link. Contact Dr. Mark Swinbank for more details.
  • Physics of the intergalactic/circumgalactic medium [ERC funded] The successful candidate will work within the Durham IMAGE group which is exploiting HST and MUSE/VLT large programmes together with hydrodynamic simulations to study how inflows and outflows shape the evolution of galaxies. Contact Prof. Michele Fumagalli for more details.
  • Modified gravity [ERC funded] The successful candidate will undertake research on observational tests of gravity in the weak and strong field regimes, including clusters of galaxies, astrophysical systems, weak lensing, redshift space distortions and cosmic voids. Contact Dr. Baojiu Li for more details.
  • Gravitational lensing tests of the properties of dark matter (two positions) One (likely theorist) will use cosmological simulations to study substructure within individual galaxies (ERC funded). Contact Prof. Carlos Frenk or Prof. Shaun Cole for more details. One (likely observer) will study galaxy clusters using the HST BUFFALO survey and the SuperBIT balloon-borne telescope (STFC funded) - contact Prof. Richard Massey. There is some flexibility between the posts, so applicants with interests between these areas are also encouraged.
  • Near-Field cosmology [Leverhulme Trust funded] The successful candidate will use observational survey data and cosmological simulations to study the Milky Way halo. Contact Dr. Alis Deason for more details.
We also anticipate other positions becoming available before the application deadline. Please submit all application documents to the Academic Jobs Online website. To ensure full consideration, complete applications, including references should be received by 16th December 2018.

In November 2016, the CEA moved into the brand new Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics building, designed by the world renowned Studio Daniel Libeskind. The new building now houses all three astronomy groups in the Department of Physics, including the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation and the Institute for Computational Cosmology, as well as the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy.

The new Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics building.

Mission: Observational astronomy and astrophysics is the fundamental foundation of our understanding of the formation and evolution of stars, galaxies, black holes and large-scale structure in the Universe. The Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy’s core mission is to extend society’s knowledge and understanding of the Universe we inhabit. We achieve this by supporting our internationally-leading staff to pursue innovative research programmes and to exploit these to train the next generation of world class early-stage researchers. The expertise of our staff encompasses the key observational techniques needed to develop and exploit the next generation of multi-wavelength surveys for galaxies, black holes and large-scale structure, and the detailed study of their properties.

Research programme: The CEA's research programme makes extensive use of the world's forefront observational facilities to test advanced theoretical models of galaxy and structure formation developed in Durham. We utilise the largest ground-based optical and near-infrared telescopes including those in Chile, Hawaii, Australia and the Canary Islands, and we have been particularly successful at obtaining time on the Hubble Space Telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array. The multi-wavelength aspects of our programme focus on sub-millimetre and radio observations from ground-based facilities in Hawaii, Spain, Australia and the Americas and X-ray observations from space-based facilities such as the Chandra, Newton and NuSTAR X-ray satellites. Follow the Research Topics link to find out more about our research.

A key component of our research explores mass accretion onto black holes and is outlined both here (see Research Topics link on the left hand panel) and on our high-energy astrophysics web pages. We also closely interact with staff in the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation to aid the development and commissioning of instrumentation purpose-built for studies relevant to this area. In addition we pursue a number of common projects on galaxy formation, large-scale structure and the nature of the cosmic dark matter with theoretical research staff within the Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC) at Durham.

The Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy is one of three major partners in the Durham Astronomy Research Cluster. We welcome requests from individuals with strong science backgrounds who wish to join us as Research Fellows, Postdoctoral Researchers or Graduate Students.

Our latest publications


2019 MNRAS, 482, 5316 (on-line)
Mizumoto M., Ebisawa K., Tsujimoto M., Done C., Hagino K., Odaka H.
X-ray reverberation lags of the Fe-K line due to AGN disc winds

2019 MNRAS, 482, L65 (on-line)
Klitsch A., Zwaan M. A., Péroux C., Smail I., Oteo I., Popping G., Swinbank A. M., Ivison R. J., Biggs A. D.
ALMACAL V: absorption-selected galaxies with evidence for excited ISMs

2019 MNRAS, 482, 3550 (on-line)
Krumholz M. R., Adamo A., Fumagalli M., Calzetti D.
SLUG IV: a novel forward-modelling method to derive the demographics of star clusters

2019 MNRAS, 482, 3261 (on-line)
Kulier A., Padilla N., Schaye J., Crain R. A., Schaller M., Bower R. G., Theuns T., Paillas E.
The evolution of the baryon fraction in haloes as a cause of scatter in the galaxy stellar mass in the EAGLE simulation