We design, build and then use novel instruments and telescopes to answer fundamental questions in cosmology and astrophysics that cannot be addressed with existing common-user facilities. Many of the underlying science goals are based in cosmology – the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), and the history of structure formation in the universe.
Our research programme requires the development of techniques in very high-sensitivity radio measurements, across the whole range of techniques in radio astronomy – design of antennas, cryogenic receivers, broadband signal-processing systems both analogue and digital, and processing and analysis of the output data.
Key projects that we are currently involved in include the C-Band All-Sky Survey (C-BASS) and the Square Kilometer Array (SKA). C-BASS is led by the team in Oxford and is a project to measure the whole sky at 5 GHz (6cm wavelength) in both intensity and polarization as part of the global effort to make precise measurements of the CMB polarization and understand the physics of inflation and the early Universe. The SKA will be one of the world’s largest radio telescopes. The team in Oxford are leading several aspects of the design including the development of the high-frequency receivers for the SKA dish-array.
The techniques that we develop as part of our research have direct application to the field of satellite communications and we work closely with Goonhillly Earth Station Ltd., the UK’s largest satellite ground station.