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News Teaching Physics & Astronomy University Of Sheffield

The astronomy and astrophysics group within the Department of Physics & Astronomy is involved in a wide range of teaching and research activities. We were ranked in the top ten physics departments for research outputs in REF 2014. Our research interests cover two broad themes, the building blocks of galaxy evolution, and high time resolution astrophysics. The first observational sub-group encompasses the properties, formation and evolution of massive stars - including black hole binaries - star clusters, starbursts and the feedback effect of Active Galaxies. The high time resolution astrophysics sub-group exploit the ULTRACAM and ULTRASPEC instruments, to study various transient phenonena, including close binaries. ULTRASPEC is to be permanently mounted at the Thai National Observatory 2.4m telescope.

Our observational strength is reflected by success with allocations on heavily oversubscribed ground-based (VLT, Gemini) and space-based (Hubble, Spitzer) telescopes. This is underpinned by growing theoretical interest, including simulations of star formation and star cluster evolution. Our research activities are supported by grants provided by STFC, the Royal Society and the European Research Council, the latter supporting a new high time resolution instrument HiPERCAM. Recent group papers can be found via arXiv.org.

We teach three and four-year Physics & Astrophysics degree programmes. Our University has been awarded the UK University of the Year in the 2011 Times Higher Education Awards, while the department was the highest ranked physics department for student satisfaction in NSS 2014. Undergraduates have access to the rooftop robotic imaging telescope ROSA, plus a 16 inch Meade telescope equipped with an imager and spectrograph. An annual field trip to the pt5m telescope on La Palma is available. There is also the opportunity for M.Phys students to spend their third year studying in the United States, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, or their final year working as a support astronomer at the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes on La Palma. A broad range of undergraduate courses are available covering all aspects of astrophysics from the solar system, through stars and galaxies to cosmology, including lecture courses dedicated to astrobiology, dark matter and the history of astronomy. We jointly fund the Deep Sky Videos youtube channel on objects in the Messier Catalogue, telescopes and related aspects of astronomy.

NEWS: July 2015 Dr Stuart Littlefair is a coauthor of a study published in Nature in which aurorae has been inferred in a nearby brown dwarf, reported in BBC science news and an interview on BBC Radio 4 Today programme

NEWS: June 2015 Sounds of the Cosmos, featuring a live performance of the Planets suite by the Sheffield Rep Orchestra, short astronomy talks from Prof Paul Crowther plus original visuals by a local design agency took place during 2015 Doc/Fest at the Crucible Theatre - see news item. Sounds of the Cosmos has also been recommissioned for 2015 Latitude Festival.

A list of PhD projects for prospective postgraduate students for Autumn 2015 entry is available here. Dedicated 3-4 year astronomy studentships are available (departmental and STFC-funded), the former particularly suitable for EU-based applicants.