Astrophysics award

29 January 2008

Astrophysics team win Royal Astronomical Society award

Chris Collins and Ivan BaldryProfessor Chris Collins and Dr Ivan Baldry, from LJMU's Astrophysics Research Institute, have been awarded the Royal Astronomical Society's 2008 Group Achievement Award for their role in the 2-degree Field (2dF) Galaxy Redshift Survey. 

The 2dF team are the first recipients of this new award, which recognizes outstanding achievement by large consortia in any branch of astronomy or geophysics.

From 1997 to 2002, Professor Collins and Dr Baldry worked as part of the 2dF team of 33 astronomers, using the Anglo-Australian Telescope to survey more than 250,000 galaxies. By mapping such a large part of the 'local Universe', they could show how galaxies are found in clusters and superclusters while also giving astronomers a better understanding of the roles of normal and dark matter in the evolution of the cosmos.

Professor Collins said: "We are proud to have contributed to this landmark project, which used brilliant new telescope instrumentation to create the largest 3-dimensional map of the universe. The power of the survey to probe the very fabric of the universe is breathtaking."

Dr Baldry continued: "The survey enabled us to examine the properties of galaxies in great detail, providing crucial information on how they change with time."

Both ARI astronomers participated in observing campaigns at the Anglo-Australian Observatory, in New South Wales Australia and both led key survey science papers on the star formation history of galaxies and the properties of galaxy clusters. 

Dr Baldry continued: "Even this landmark project didn’t really probe much beyond the cosmic doorstep. Over the next decade we hope to carry out multi-wavelength studies of galaxies close to 10 billion light years from Earth. This is about three quarters of the way to the Big Bang itself. Such data will help astronomers solve vexing questions such as how structure forms and the nature of dark matter and dark energy."

Professor Collins added: "Studies of distant galaxies now form a major part of our research activity at the ARI."

The LJMU astronomers will receive an RAS Group Achievement Award certificate. They share the award with colleagues in eight international research institutes and 9 other UK Universities: Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Nottingham, Oxford, Reading, St Andrew's, UCL.

Pictured: Professor Chris Collins and Dr Ivan Baldry

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