What is Astronomical Research?
Astronomical Research can be theoretical or observational, computational or instrumental, but what links these studies is a curiosity about the cosmos. Are there other habitable planets? Where did the Earth, the Sun, the Galaxy come from? How many galaxies are there? What happened after the Big Bang that lead to structure formation? Addressing these kinds of questions requires a variety of techniques from high quality instruments on cutting-edge telescopes and their use in the collection of big datasets, to high-performance computations and theoretical/numerical modelling on the latest superclusters of computers. Physical data, such as nuclear reaction rates in high temperature/density environments are also necessary to accurately describe phenomena the Universe.
What kind of Astronomical Research is at UVic?
Our observational astronomers are searching for exoplanets and the most distant galaxies, examining how stars form and evolve, studying the variations in the properties of galaxies, including the size/presence of central blackholes in galaxies.
Theoretical astronomers are examining cosmological models of the formation of the Universe, often through detailed calculations on the latest supercomputers. Other theorists are carrying out high-performance calculations of nuclear burning in stars coupled with convective mixing to study the formation of the chemical elements and evolution of their stellar hosts.
Engineers and scientists in our group are working together to build astronomical instruments and test new techniques to improve operations and performance of current instruments. Some engineers are also testing new devices for higher performance at extremely low temperatures or longer wavelengths in anticipation of the next generation of ground based arrays. Some scientists are involved in working groups to define the scientific goals of the next generation of instruments, and exploring new ways to capture and process big datasets of the future.