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. The Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers 2018 list puts Durham's astronomers and cosmologists first in the UK, second in Europe and sixth in the world for the quality and influence of their research in space science.

Fellowship and Postdoctoral Research Positions in Observational and Theoretical Cosmology and Extragalactic Astronomy and Planetary Science
We invite applications for the following 3-year funded postdoctoral positions within the broad areas of extragalactic astronomy, cosmology, and planetary science at Durham University. Please indicate in your application which of these posts you want to be considered for.
  • Observational & theoretical studies of dark matter [2 positions]. The successful candidates will join the active cluster lensing group at CEA and ICC. The group is strongly involved in the Hubble Space Telescope BUFFALO survey which uses gravitational lensing in massive clusters to study the distant universe and constrain the nature of dark matter, and James Webb Space telescope cluster observations. Moreover, the group is involved in the balloon-borne telescope SuperBIT which will provide wide-field, high resolution and multi-wavelength observations of several tens of massive clusters. Our expertise range from strong to weak gravitational lensing, mass modelling techniques, the study of the high redshift Universe, the physics of clusters, including galaxy evolution and that using imaging and spectroscopy from the ground and space. We thus welcome applications from people interested in finding clues on the nature of dark matter using galaxy clusters as laboratories both from the observation and theory perspectives. Please contact Prof Mathilde Jauzac for more details.
  • Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) and the Southern Wide-field Gamma-ray Observatory (SWGO) [1 position]. A PDRA position is available to work on calibration systems for the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) and the Southern Wide-field Gamma-ray Observatory (SWGO). The successful appointee will also have the opportunity to work on science topics of their choice relevant to CTA and SWGO. Please contact Prof Paula Chadwick for more details.
  • Dissecting elliptical galaxies with poisson fluctuation spectroscopy [1 position]. This post aims to develop and deploy a novel technique to isolate the spectra of giant stars in unresolved populations, using the pixel-to-pixel fluctuations in high-resolution IFU data. The project involves building realistic mock datasets and testing against existing and forthcoming observations (MUSE-NFM; ERIS; JWST/NIRSPEC). The ultimate goal is to evaluate strategies for observations with ELT/HARMONI, in which Durham is a consortium partner. Please contact Dr Russell Smith for more details.
  • Star formation and stellar feedback in nearby galaxies [1 position]. The successful candidate will work on integral field unit as well as multi-wavelength photometric observations of nearby galaxies to study their resolved stellar populations and ISM, and ideally already have some expertise in this field. Please contact Dr Anna McLeod for more details.
  • The dynamics, star formation and chemical properties of high redshift galaxies [1 position]. The successful candidate will work on the dynamics and star formation properties of high redshift galaxies from multi-wavelength observations, including KMOS, ERIS and ALMA. Please contact Prof Mark Swinbank for more details.
  • Ultraluminous X-ray sources [1 position]. The successful candidate will work on X-ray and multi-wavelength studies of the populations of ULXs revealed by new serendipitous and all-sky surveys. Please contact Prof Tim Roberts for more details.
  • Systematic variability analysis of accreting white dwarfs with TESS [1 position]. The successful candidate will exploit TESS observations to systematically study and characterise the variability properties of hundreds of interacting accreting white dwarfs in binaries. Previous experience in timing analysis techniques are thus ideal, as well as some experience in multi-wavelength data reduction and analysis. Results will be placed in a broader context and used to test for similarities and differences against other types of accreting compact objects. Please contact Dr. Simone Scaringi for more details.
  • Strong gravitational lensing by galaxies, using JWST COSMOS-Web and Euclid data [1 position]. This post will search for the low-mass clumps of dark matter that are predicted uniquely by LCDM. The succesful candidate will also become a member of the Euclid ground segment team, and help control pixel-level instrument effects. Proficiency in python and/or C++ ideal. Please contact Prof Richard Massey for more details.
  • Dark substructure predictions for CDM [1 position]. The goals are two fold: (i) to make predictions for the abundance and properties of dark substructures of all masses around the Milky Way and other galaxies (ii) to use these to make observational predictions. The successful candidate will be encouraged to work equally on the simulation aspects and making predictions for example for detecting annihilation radiation with CTA, exploiting upcoming samples of strong gravitational lenses, or using gaps in stellar streams. Please contact Prof. Adrian Jenkins for more details.
  • Measuring the neutrino mass [1 position]. Ordinary neutrinos are the only dark matter particle known, but their mass has yet to be determined. The best limits come from cosmology and the large-scale distribution of galaxies. We have developed new techniques for high-precision cosmological simulations including neutrinos. We are also members of the DESI survey collaboration. The successful candidate will be encouraged to work both on the simulations - making predictions for observables, for example - and on the DESI data with the goal of measuring the neutrino mass. Please contact Prof. Carlos Frenk for details
  • Cosmological hydrodynamics simulations of galaxy formation [1 position]. The "COLIBRE" project is the successor of the EAGLE project, greatly extending the range of physical processes modelled in order to follow the formation of structure at high resolution. The successful applicant will be encouraged to work with these simulations on projects fitting their interests but which could range from the formation of the first galaxies through the structure of modern galaxies to galaxy clustering. Please contact Prof. Carlos Frenk for details.
  • Cosmological tests of gravity [1 position]. A three-year position is open in the area of cosmological tests of gravity. The successful candidate will work on the modelling of galaxy clustering in various modified gravity and dark energy models, assisted by numerical simulations. They will be involved in a DESI project to constrain beyond-LCDM models with standard and novel galaxy clustering statistics from DESI data. They are also welcomed to bring their own, complementary, research programme. Please contact Prof Baojiu Li for more details.
Please submit all application documents, including stating which posts you want to be considered for, to the Academic Jobs Online website. To ensure full consideration, complete applications, including references should be received by 14th December 2022.
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. A key component of our research explores mass accretion onto black holes. Follow the Research Topics link to find out more about our research.

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

2023 Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 518, 5576 (on-line)
Veresvarska M, Scaringi S
Outer disc edge: properties of low-frequency aperiodic variability in ultracompact interacting binaries

2023 Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 518, 6200 (on-line)
Belokurov V, Vasiliev E, Deason A, Koposov S, Fattahi A, Dillamore A, Davies E, Grand R
Energy wrinkles and phase-space folds of the last major merger

2023 The Astronomical Journal, 165, 50 (on-line)
Myers A, Moustakas J, Bailey S, Weaver B, Cooper A, Forero-Romero J, Abolfathi B, Alexander D, Brooks D, Chaussidon E, Chuang C, Dawson K, Dey A, Dey B, Dhungana G, Doel P, Fanning K, Gaztanaga E, A Gontcho S, Gonzalez-Morales A, Hahn C, Herrera-Alcantar H, Honscheid K, Ishak M, Karim T, Kirkby D, Kisner T, Koposov S, Kremin A, Lan T, Landriau M, Lang D, Levi M, Magneville C, Napolitano L, Martini P, Meisner A, Newman J, Palanque-Delabrouille N, Percival W, Poppett C, Prada F, Raichoor A, Ross A, Schlafly E, Schlegel D, Schubnell M, Tan T, Tarle G, Wilson M, Yeche C, Zhou R, Zhou Z, Zou H
The Target-selection Pipeline for the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument

2023 Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 518, 1789 (on-line)
Tomaru R, Done C, Mao J
What powers the wind from the black hole accretion disc in GRO J1655-40?