A new centre will enable Oxford University scientists to play a leading role in the next generation of international sky surveys probing fundamental questions about our Universe.
The University of Oxford Centre for Astrophysical Surveys has been established with the help of a £1.5m gift from the Hintze Family Charitable Foundation established by businessman and philanthropist Sir Michael Hintze. The Centre will fund a team of research fellows and graduate students that will provide a focus for the physicists at Oxford working on surveys searching for the invisible dark matter and dark energy thought to make up 95% of the Universe, exploring transient sources such as pulsars, and looking at how galaxies evolve.
Over the next five years the Centre will build on Oxford's existing strengths in astrophysics, with physicists taking part in upcoming surveys such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV and LOFAR, and build towards the launch of 'flagship' surveys such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).
Professor Roger Davies, Head of Astrophysics at Oxford University, who will lead the new Centre, said: 'Telescopes such as SKA and LSST are amongst the most ambitious scientific instruments ever devised and have the potential to revolutionise our understanding of the Universe, what it is made of, and how it formed. Michael Hintze's generous gift will not only guarantee the participation of Oxford physicists in these surveys but will expand our research teams so that we can build vital expertise to advance the subject now and prepare for these 'destination' surveys that will see first light in the 2020s.'
Sir Michael Hintze said: 'I am delighted that we are continuing to support Oxford's world-leading research into the outer reaches of our Universe. Exploration of dark matter and dark energy is at the forefront of current scientific thinking in physics and has the potential to give insights into new fields of endeavour and provide us with the technologies to better understand the origins and fate of our Universe.'