About the Astrophysics Research Institute

About the Institute and what we do

Originating in 1992, the Astrophysics Research Institute now comprises over 50 staff and research students.

The primary strategic aim of the Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) is to develop a centre of excellence in astrophysics that is recognised internationally.

Research interests of the ARI include studies in star formation, stellar evolution, time-domain astrophysics (particularly novae, supernovae and gamma-ray bursts), galaxy formation, dynamics and evolution (including AGN), and galaxy clusters, and we have formal partnerships with several major international projects including CTA, Sloan IV, LIGO-Virgo, Euclid, WEAVE on the William Herschel Telescope, LOFAR and the LSST.

What have we achieved?

We have performed exceptionally well in the latest survey of research quality in UK universities. The results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) confirmed that more than 85% of the ARI’s research outputs are world-leading or internationally excellent. In terms of world-leading research within physics, the ARI’s astrophysics research was ranked third amongst North West universities and first amongst the UK Alliance Universities.

The Astrophysics Research Institute has recently achieved success with the EAGLE Project. We collaborated with Durham University and the University of Leiden on the Project which is a cosmological simulation to help astrophysicists understand how galaxies form and evolve. The research resulted in the second highest cited paper in astrophysics, from a total of 23,000 papers. In addition, the ARI was awarded Research Project of the Year at the Educate North Awards 2016.

The ARI has previously been a recipient of the Queen's Anniversary Prize for its outstanding achievements in Higher and Further Education, including the development of the world's largest fully robotic telescope – the Liverpool Telescope (LT) – and its innovative educational programmes in UK schools and colleges.

An image obtained from the Liverpool Telescope won a prestigious international photography competition. The image, entitled 'Iridis', took first place in the 'Robotic Scope' category of the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016.

The Liverpool Telescope is the main piece of research infrastructure of the Institute and ARI staff have access to 30% of LT time for their own research programmes. ARI researchers work with SENAR Precision Engineering to manufacture bespoke precision instruments for the Liverpool Telescope.
Read the case study about this partnership: Telescopic precision engineering