Sky survey centre will probe Universe's dark secrets | University of Oxford
SKA low-frequency antennae
Artist's impression of the low-frequency antennae that will be built as part of the Square Kilometre Array project.
Image: Swinburne Astronomy Productions/ICRAR/U. Cambridge/ASTRON.

Sky survey centre will probe Universe's dark secrets

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 HintzeSir Michael Hintze

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.'

Sir Michael is the founder, Chief Executive and Senior Investment Officer of CQS, one of Europe's leading multi-strategy asset management firms. The Hintze Family Charitable Foundation was established in 2005 and since its inception almost 200 charities have received funding from the Foundation. The beneficial impact of the Foundation in the UK includes the sponsorship of the Sculpture and Medieval and Renaissance galleries at the Victoria & Albert Museum and helping to fund the Old Vic Theatre in London, where Sir Michael is co-Chairman of the Old Vic Endowment Trust. Sir Michael is a Trustee of the National Gallery, the Institute of Economic Affairs and the University of Sydney UK Trust, as well as Chairman of The Prince's Foundation for Building Community.