Welcome to the Keele Astrophysics Group which is part of the
School of Chemical and Physical Sciences and the Faculty of Natural Sciences.
The Keele Astrophysics group currently consists of 11 academic staff
members, with research interests including star formation and stellar clusters,
late stellar evolution, massive stars and their impact on the early universe,
the interstellar medium, binary stars, interacting binary stars, and the
detection of extra-solar planets.
Astrophysics Research Experience
This summer the Astrophysics Group will again host our "Astrophysics Research Experience" week from July 6th-10th. Students from schools and colleges in years 10, 11 and 12 are invited to apply to spend a (non-residential) week with us, working in teams on genuine research problems involving data from world-class observatories like NASA's TESS mission and ESA's Gaia satellite. The projects will be supervised by Prof Rob Jeffries, Dr Pierre Maxted and a number of our astrophysics PhD students.
The programme is now in its fifth year. Last year more than 40 pupils from 21 schools and colleges attended.
More details can be found at http://bit.ly/astroresexp2020 and applications are invited by February 26th.
AWARD OF TELESCOPE TIME
Postdoctoral researcher Dr Alex Binks was awarded 8 half nights of telescope time using the HERMES+2dF instruments on the Anglo Australian Telescope to search for new low-mass stars in the outer regions of the NGC2516 open cluster. These observations will help us understand how these clusters eventually disperse and how their stars are ejected.
Funding for trip to India
PhD student Clara Pennock has won a grant (£700) from the Royal
Astronomical Society - International Astronomical Union Office of
Astronomy for Development, for public engagement activities during her
upcoming research field trip to India funded through the Newton-Bhabha
student placement scheme.
Keele Astronomers win massive amounts of facility time
Student Viktor Zivkov, with Joana Oliveira, won 54 hours on the 4m VISTA
telescope in Chile to study stars forming in the Magellanic Clouds.
Coel Hellier, with David Anderson and student Lorna Temple, won 8 nights on
the 3.6m ESO telescope in Chile to discover planets around hot stars.
John Southworth, with Pierre Maxted and Barry Smalley, won 7 nights on the
4.2m William Herschel Telescope in Spain, 2 nights on the 3.6m New Technology
Telescope in Chile, and 7 nights on the 1.9m telescope in South Africa to study
exoplanets and their hosts; with Maxted and student Sam Gill he won 17 hours on
the 2m Liverpool Telescope in Spain to study eclipsing binary stars.
Pierre Maxted, with Rob Jeffries, won 13 nights on the Isaac Newton Telescope
(INT) in Spain to study tidal interactions between binary solar-type stars.
Student Teo Mocnik, with Southworth and Hellier, won access to data from the
Kepler spacecraft to study exoplanet systems.
Jacco van Loon won 7 hours on the 8.2m Very Large Telescope in Chile against
an overbidding factor of 12, to study the remnant of a supernova explosion; with
student James Bamber he won 4 nights on the INT to find dying stars in nearby
galaxies; and with student Ameerah Al-Sadooni he won 28 hours time on the
Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) to study galaxies seen on their
Sam Gill, with Smalley, Maxted and student Jessica Kirkby-Kent won 5 hours on
SALT to characterise binary stars. Both SALT allocations are at no cost to
European project to investigate the origins of the universe takes flight
Work has begun in earnest on a European project to investigate the beginnings of the universe.
The Chemical Elements as Tracers of the Evolution of the Cosmos (ChETEC) Action is a multidisciplinary,
pan-European network to further develop our understanding of the evolution of the universe.
The COST-funded Action, which was granted last year, aims to bring together researchers, scientists and
businesses from 27 countries in Europe to answer open questions about the early stages of the universe.
Dr Raphael Hirschi, Chair of the ChETEC Action and Associate Professor of Astrophysics at Keele
University, has just returned to the UK after delivering invited talks at conferences in Italy and Korea,
where he introduced the ChETEC Action and presented findings from his ERC-funded SHYNE project. His talks
were very well received, with participants at both conferences learning how they could get involved in the
ChETEC COST Action.
Dr Hirschi is also liaising with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics (JINA) in the US, which
drives a similar coordination effort in the US in the field of Nuclear Astrophysics.
Dr Hirschi commented: "Raising the profile of the ChETEC Action is key to being able to build
comprehensive knowledge hubs and also to further coordinate research at the inter-continental level in this
challenging cross-disciplinary field of research."
The next stage of the Action will be a workshop for all members to attend, to be held at Keele University
from 9-11th of October 2017. This workshop will involve all four of the Action’s working groups, who will
set-up knowledge hubs and coordinate research activities to answer key open questions such as: "What is the
role of neutrinos and their oscillations in supernova explosions and their ejecta composition?"
Two training schools for researchers are also planned; in Paris
in September 2017, and in Bucharest
in April 2018.
Dr Hirschi said: "I am very excited about the training schools, where PhD students and researchers will
learn state-of-the-art techniques and gain valuable hands-on experience. This is a unique opportunity for
many PhD students across Europe, who could not obtain such training at their home institute or even elsewhere
in their country. Short-term scientific missions have also started and will boost collaborations across our
To find out more about the ChETEC COST Action, visit the project
Stardome project wins national widening participation and outreach award
The Astrophysics group's "Stardome", a portable planetarium for schools, developed by Prof Rob Jeffries using funding from the STFC and Keele's alumni fund, won the Times Higher Education Supplement Widening Participation and Outreach initiative of the year award.
The 6-m diameter inflatable planetarium is taken to around 35 local schools and 4000 school pupils per year by Prof Jeffries and a team of "Keele student ambassadors". The project is administered by Keele's widening participation team. Pupils learn about the cosmos, stellar evolution, the search for alien life and Keele's role in discovering exoplanetary systems around other stars.