Astrophysics Group

Cavendish Laboratory

Main Projects



The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the successor of the Hubble Space Telescope, planned for launch in 2018. It is a joint project between NASA, ESA and  CSA. We are heavily involved in NIRSpec, the near infrared multi-object spectrograph. One of the main goals of the instrument is to identify and characterise the first galaxies formed in the early Universe and to track their evolution through the cosmic epoch by delivering the deepest spectra ever obtained for these objects in the near-IR range.








MaNGA is one of the new SDSS projects, planned to start operations in mid 2014. It will deliver integral field optical optical spectra of 10,000 galaxies in the local universe. These will be used to spatially resolve the dynamics, stellar populations, metallicities, star formation rate, and other key parameters in galaxies spanning a wide range of physical properties (e.g. mass, age, star formation, environment) with  unprecedented statistics.






ALLSMOG is an ESO large programme aimed at determining the molecular gas content in a sample of 80 local galaxies by measuring the CO(2-1) transition with the APEX telescope. The sample includes galaxies spanning a wide range of stellar masses, HI masses and metallicities. The project will enable us to investigate the interplay between star formation , gas inflows and outflows, and metal enrichment.





We are heavily exploiting the Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA), which is the largest large and most powerful astronomical facility operating in the millimeter/submillimeter wavelength range, to investigate the evolution of the gas content, and its dynamics, in galaxies at high redshift, including the most distant galaxies known, during the so-called epoch of re-ionization. These data are enabling to understand the physical processes responsible for the galaxy formation in the early universe.







We are involved in some of the key extragalactic surveys of Herschel and in particular in the PACS Evolutionary Probe (PEP), which is a guaranteed time key programme aimed to study the restframe far-infrared emission of galaxies up to redshift ~3, as a function of environment. The survey has shed new light on the constituents of the cosmic IR background and their nature, on the co-evolution of AGN and starbursts, and  (together with the parallel HERMES – SPIRE programme) on the evolution of the dust content in galaxies.









MOONS is a near-IR multi-object spectrograph selected by ESO as third generation instrument for the Very Large Telescope. MOONS will obtain spectra of over a million galaxies at z>1, hence providing a high redshift equivalent of the SDSS. These spectra will enable the identification and characterisations of galaxies, at at the peak of cosmic star formation, spanning a wide range of physical properties and environments. Our team is involved both in the technical and scientific activities.







Artist’s impression of the E-ELT


HIRES is the high resolution spectrograph planned for the European-Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Some of the key science cases are the detection of the chemical fingerprints of the first generation of stars (PopIII) in the primordial universe, the variation of the fundamental constants of physics, and the detection and characterisation of exoplanet atmospheres.







AMAZE is an ESO large programme, which has observed 40 star forming galaxies at 3<z<5 with the near-IR integral field spectrometer SINFONI at the ESO-VLT, with the goal of investigating the metallicity and dynamics of galaxies in the early Universe.








We are involved in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the most ambitious project in radio astronomy. Please, visit the dedicated group page for information about the Cambridge related activities and involvement.



We are also actively exploiting data from several observing projects at various facilities, including ALMA, IRAM and at ESO-VLT.