Research activity in DISCnet: Astronomy and Particle Physics

The core DISCnet research covers a range of leading astronomical and particle physics research areas. Here we list a sample of the research being undertaken.

Astronomical Surveys

Across all partners, we are interested in wide-field optical and infrared imaging and spectroscopic surveys. We use these surveys to image large areas of sky and lead spectroscopic follow up. Multi-wavelength studies across the EM spectrum increase the information content and data complexity. We exploit these data to study the static and time-domain universe: galaxy and stellar evolution, the large-scale structure of the universe, and the physical origin of dark energy. We have key roles in Euclid, VISTA, 4MOSTDark Energy Survey, DESI, LSST, and the Square Kilometre Array.

Staff: Childress, Hoenig, Sullivan (Southampton), Bacon, Crittenden, Maartens, Masters, Nichol, Percival (Portsmouth), Lewis, Loveday, Oliver, Romer, Smith (Sussex), Clarkson, Sutherland (QMUL), Serjeant (Open University)

Time-Domain Astrophysics

A key focus of our research concerns the transient sky and variability. We study black holes and neutron stars to understand accretion phenomena, test general relativity, and determine the equation-of-state of degenerate matter. Several of our staff are Affiliated PIs with the LSST survey, a revolutionary all-sky, high-cadence optical survey for the 2020s. Southampton, Sussex and Portsmouth have invested in new multi-object spectrographs (4MOST, DESI) ensuring our global leadership in the spectroscopic follow-up of transients discovered by LSST.

Staff: Altamirano, Childress, Gandhi, Hoenig, Middleton, Sullivan (Southampton), Nichol (Portsmouth), Clark, Haswell, Kolb, Norton (Open University)

Collider Physics

CERN is the pivotal facility in particle physics. After the discovery of the Higgs boson, the next frontier will be the search for physics beyond the Standard Model. Crucial connections exist with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at all faculty levels, spanning from Monte Carlo event generation (HERWIG, CalcHEP) to real data analysis, from numerical tool provision (MVAs, BDTs, Machine Learning algorithms, etc.) to database exploitation (HEPMDB). We have leading roles in ATLAS (Sussex, QMUL) as experimentalists, or CMS (Southampton) as theorists.

Staff: Moretti, Belyaev, Accomando (Southampton), Asquith, Banfi, Cerri, De Santo, Jaeger, Salvatore, Sanz, Vivarelli (Sussex), Bevan, BlumenscheinDi Lodovico, Hays, KatoriRizviWilson (QMUL)

Lattice Quantum Chromo Dynamics

Detailed numerical simulations test the particle physics Standard Model. Soton is part of the UKQCD Collaboration, exploiting UK (DiRAC) and US supercomputers for Lattice QCD. Among other topics, we are computing direct CP violation in kaon decays, addressing the asymmetry between matter than anti-matter.

Staff: Flynn, Jüttner, Morris (Southampton), Jaeger (Sussex)

Astrophysics Simulations

Physical interpretation of our survey data requires theory-based models. We develop and perform N-body and hydrodynamical simulations, including gravity, general relativity, and radiation feedback to support our observational efforts in compact objects, galaxy evolution, structure formation, the reionization epoch, and cosmology. These simulations require local high-performance computing capabilities (25,000 cores available across the DISCnet partners), as well as national and international facilities via DiRAC and PRACE.

Staff: Andersson, Di BariHo, Hoenig, Jones, Shankar (Southampton), Crittenden, Koyama, Percival (Portsmouth), Hindmarsh, Iliev, Thomas, Wilkins (Sussex), Nelson, Tsiklauri (QMUL)

Planetary Science, Space Instrumentation and Astrochemistry

We engage in space exploration with building instruments and exploiting the data-streams from planetary missions. Open University hosts instrument PIs of missions such as Huygens (Saturn), Rosetta (comet 67P), and Exomars. Various groups are exploiting these data to determine the history of Mars’s geology, study the magnetic fields of Saturn, and reveal the chemical evolution of our solar system.

Staff: Jackman (Southampton), Nelson (QMUL), Fraser, Holland, Lewis, Mason, Patel (Open University)