Opening a window of discovery on the dynamic Universe

The Department of Physics at Oxford has a long-term and strong involvement in the ground-breaking Vera C. Rubin Observatory. This pioneering facility, equipped with an 8.2m diameter mirror and a 3200 Megapixel camera, is optimised to survey the sky. It will map all of the sky visible to it, but uniquely, it will revisit the same areas approximately every three weeks over a period of ten years. This Legacy Survey of Space and Time will create the widest (largest area), deepest (most sensitive), and first-ever ten year movie of the night sky. This will address many open contemporary science questions but excitingly reveal many discoveries and new challenges to investigate.

The Rubin Observatory LSST is designed to address four science areas:

  • Probing dark energy and dark matter.
  • Taking an inventory of the solar system.
  • Exploring the transient optical sky.
  • Mapping the Milky Way.

Oxford's interest in the Rubin Observatory stretches from the moment photons hit the detector to the science areas listed above. Members across the sub-departments of Particle Physics and Astrophysics, the Hintze Centre for Astrophysical Surveys and the Beecroft Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology play leading roles in

  • instrument and hardware development
  • software and database development
  • citizen science
  • cosmological pipelines and analysis
  • strong lensing
  • galaxy evolution
  • cosmological theory
  • multi-messenger transients.

We also benefit from close interaction with the Departments of Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science, which have stimulated a fruitful interdisciplinary research environment. As such, we are tackling a wide range of Rubin-related infrastructure and science challenges with our collective expertise. 

Oxford's Rubin-LSST group meets regularly (contact Aprajita Verma & David Alonso for more information) creating a dynamic and collaborative environment across various sub-departments and groups.

We also work closely with the programme for UK involvement in Rubin-LSST (LSST:UK) as well as with the wide international Rubin Community.

Rubin Observatory Promotional Video

For the first ten years of operation, Vera C. Rubin Observatory will perform the Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time, using the Rubin Observatory LSST Camera and the Simonyi Survey Telescope.

Oxford's involvement is supported through the Department of Physics, STFC, the Hintze Centre for Cosmological Surveys and the Beecroft Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology.

Financial support for Rubin Observatory comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Cooperative Agreement No. 1258333, the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515, and private funding raised by the LSST Corporation. The NSF-funded Rubin Observatory Project Office for construction was established as an operating center under management of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).  The DOE-funded effort to build the Rubin Observatory LSST Camera (LSSTCam) is managed by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC). 

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science. NSF supports basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future.  NSF and DOE will continue to support Rubin Observatory in its Operations phase. They will also provide support for scientific research with LSST data.