Oxford Astrophysics has recently attracted a generous donation from the Hintze Family Charitable Foundation to set up the Oxford Hintze Centre for Astrophysical Surveys (OHCAS). The Centre has been led by Professor Roger Davies and from 1st January 2023, Professor Stephen Smartt took over as Director. The aim is to establish a key role in addressing the major problems of modern physics/astrophysics by augmenting our participation in the major international surveys (current and future) that are designed to address them.
The Centre runs a series of public Hintze Lectures, along with colloquia and seminars.
The Hintze Centre has ongoing participation in wide-field optical and near-infrared imaging surveys such as Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-IV), the VISTA surveys, the Pan-STARRS surveys (now two telescopes), the ATLAS survey (a global all-sky network of 4 telescopes). We play a leading role in the UK's participation in the Rubin Observatory's Legacy Survey of Space and Time. and in the Euclid mission. We are scientific leads in the UK's broker project (Lasair, which is using the Zwicky Transient facility as a prototype).
Our teams are involved in ESO's spectroscopic surveys with the multi-fibre 4MOST and with integral field spectroscopy surveys (with VLT-KMOS, AAO-SAMI and HETDEX). Our radio surveys work involves LOFAR, JVLA, MeerKAT and ASKAP on the pathway to the SKA. The centre is pursuing three strands of research, detailed below.
The Dark Universe
Led by Professor Matt Jarvis and Hintze Fellow Dr Imogen Whittam with Hintze Scholar Madalina Tudorache.
We only know what ~4% of the Universe is made of! We are at the forefront of some of the largest projects that will be used to tackle this problem into the next decade. Using wide and deep surveys at optical, near-infrared and radio wavelengths (VIDEO, JVLA, HST-CANDELS, LSST, Euclid, SKA) we can trace the large scale structure of the Universe and begin to determine the equation of state of Dark Energy, how the visible matter traces the Dark Matter, and to investigate whether General Relativity works on the largest cosmological scales.
Led by Professor Martin Bureau and Professor Roger Davies with Hintze Scholars Peter Watson and Melika Gorgianeh.
Our research is aimed at understanding the assembly and evolution of galaxies, as a function of environment and mass, from the earliest times until the present day. We study nearby galaxies using surveys such as MaNGA and SAMI to make detailed models of their luminous and dark components. The deepest surveys from space- and ground-based facilities (e.g. VLT-KMOS, HST) are used to measure the properties of galaxies 5-10 billion years ago when star formation was at its peak, and the first clusters of galaxies were forming.
The Transient Universe
Led by Professor Stephen Smartt and Professor Rob Fender along with Hintze Fellow Dr Alex Cooper and Hintze Scholar Amy Knight.
Many of the new surveys at all wavelengths are pushing new frontiers in time-domain astronomy, with facilities capable of surveying vast sky areas to relatively deep levels on second timescales. Our group studies the statistics and the astrophysics of transients, and carries out detailed simulations of these events. We work with optical and near-infrared surveys, and with our ATLAS collaboration we can survey the whole sky every night from both the northern and southern hemispheres. We use the twin Pan-STARRS telescopes to search for the counterparts of gravitational waves and kilonovae, and play a leading role in the ENGRAVE Large Programme at ESO for follow-up. Our team is building toward the excitement of the Rubin Observatory and LSST. We take advantage of key projects in radio time-domain astronomy such as LOFAR Transients, MeerKAT-MeerLICHT, and SKA.