Extra £1.7m funding for space research will help unlock the secrets of dark matter
It’s more important than ever to get to the bottom of the dark matter mystery, say University of Surrey scientists as they celebrate £1.7million in funding to help tackle some of the universe’s trickiest questions.
The funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council will fund five pioneering studies at Surrey.
This new funding will help bring the brightest minds to the University and help humanity finally get to the bottom of dark matter. This funding will help take advantage of exciting new opportunities in astrophysics, from new telescopes coming on stream, to AI making our modelling ever more powerful.Dr Michelle Collins, Reader (Associate Professor)
The funding will support three new postdoctoral research assistants to work on the following problems.
What is dark matter?
Some of the smallest galaxies by mass in the known universe don’t contain as much dark matter as we’d expect them to. This might mean re-thinking what dark matter is like, and how these galaxies formed.
In the past, these galaxies have been hard to study – because it’s hard to tell whether a faint object is a distant galaxy or a nearby star. The new Vera Rubin telescope in Chile will let a team from Surrey, led by Dr Michelle Collins, see more of them – helping us refine our understanding of what dark matter is really like.
Since even light cannot escape from a black hole, they’re very difficult to study. But pairs of supermassive black holes can produce gravitational waves – first detected in 2015 – which could give us new insight into how they form and grow.
Using artificial intelligence to speed up their calculations, a team led by Dr Alessia Gualandris will develop a theory of how pairs of black holes form – so that when we observe gravitational waves, we have a better understanding of what we’re looking at.
The oldest star clusters
A third study, led by Prof Justin Read, will use a powerful computer model to work out how the Universe's oldest clusters of stars formed. First discovered in 1665, they remain an enigma. For the first time, Professor Read’s team hopes to model how they emerged.
From understanding what dark matter is really like to hunting for merging supermassive black holes and discovering the origins of the oldest star clusters, our research in Surrey is changing our understanding of the cosmos.Professor Justin Read, Early Career Researcher Lead and Chair of Astrophysics
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