Research

Members of the ARC are engaged in a wide variety of scientific and engineering research.  Science programs including searching for exoplanets, studying the environments for star formation, calculating the evolutionary stages of stellar and galaxy evolution, modelling nuclear processes in stars and in the formation of galaxies, and participating in team science related to astronomical instrumentation and future observational facilities.

Engineering programs range from new adaptive optics technologies, phased array feeds for higher sensitivities at long wavelengths, and exquisite wide field imaging and spectroscopic instrumentation.

ARC members are also leaders in the operations and development of the next-generation astronomical facilities, such as the Thirty Meter Telescope to be built on Maunakea, the developments at the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimeter Array in Chile, and instruments on the James Webb Space Telescope to be launched in 2018.

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 being done 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.

Resources for Astronomers

  • ARC Astrohub
  • Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC)
  • Canadian Advanced Network for Astronomical Research (CANFAR) - Cloud computing for data intensive astronomy. 

Cosmology

Apostle Simulation

Cosmology research includes studying the formation of galaxies, and the growth of structures from the early universe to the structures we observe today. We can tackle these large-scale questions observationally and by using both theoretical and computational modelling.

Planetary systems

HL Tau disk

Understanding the origins and evolution of disks around stars is important for the study of both both planet formation and star formation. These disks come in many forms, both as the birthplace of planets and as debris disks. The field of planetary systems also includes the study of planets, both those around other stars and in our own solar system.  

Galaxy evolution

NGVS Galaxies

Galaxies, both nearby and in the distant universe, are a fascinating research topic.  ARC researchers use large surveys to study galaxy interactions and morphology; they study our own galaxy and the Local Group in extensive detail using resolved stars; and they look at nearby clusters, like Virgo, to understand the diversity of galaxies.

 

ARCNet

arcnet-block

High performance computing techniques such as machine learning, neural networks and deep learning methods are poised to revolutionize the way we do astronomy in this era of massive data sets.  ARCNet is an umbrella that encompasses three collaborations (GalNet, PlaNet and StarNet) that are applying cutting-edge data science techniques to large astronomical data sets.

 

 

Stellar astrophysics

Turbulence in stellar simulation

Stellar astrophysics includes star formation and nuclear astrophysics. ARC researchers both model stellar interiors and observe stellar spectra.

Instrument projects

AO Lab bench

Instrumentation projects include ground-based, space-based and physics projects. ARC researchers develop the cutting edge technology needed for the next generation of telescopes.