No need to Mind the Gap: Astrophysicists fill in 11 billion years of our universe’s expansion history

Today, 20th July 2020, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) culminates 20 years of cosmological research with the release of a comprehensive analysis of the largest 3-D map of the Universe ever created. The new results come from the extended Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (eBOSS). The results from this effort are described in 23 papers, appearing  in today's arXiv. ARI's researcher, Violeta Gonzalez-Perez, has been a member of eBOSS since 2016. She has co-lead the effort of producing mock catalogues of star-forming emission line galaxies (ELGs,… Read the Full Article

Postdoctoral Research Fellowships 2020

The 2020 round of Ernest Rutherford Fellowships has been announced by the Science and Technology Research Council (STFC), see: These are fully funded five-year research fellowships to be held in science areas supported by STFC. If you are interested in applying for one of these to be hosted by the Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) at Liverpool John Moores University you can find more details about our research at: The STFC deadline for ER Fellowships is 17 September 2020, but to…

Nature: The cosmic commute towards star and planet formation

The flow of gas in the Universe by which stars and planets are formed is a process controlled by a cascade of matter that begins on galactic scales. Scientists from the Max Plank Institute for Astronomy and Liverpool John Moores University used new measurement techniques to explore how molecular gas clouds travel along networks of filamentary gas lanes towards the congested centres of gas and dust where they are compressed into stars and planets. And they found that a hierarchy of gas movements is "dynamically interconnected" like the movement of commuters moving to work on a busy day.… Read the Full Article

Alex Hill's industrial placement at IBM Research

PhD student Alex Hill undertook an industrial placement at IBM Research in Daresbury, Cheshire. He studied rare-event surrogate modelling with supervisor Dr Małgorzata Zimoń, and discusses his experience in the below blog post. I first heard about the possibility of undertaking an internship position at IBM Research Daresbury through the project coordinator of the LIV.DAT CDT. Immediately I was drawn to the position - it was the perfect environment to apply the data skills that I had developed throughout my PhD studies, as well as to learn first-hand from leading researchers in the private…

Dr. Sebastian Kamann awarded Future Leaders Fellowship

Congratulations to Dr. Sebastian Kamann who has been selected for a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellowship (FLF). This highly competitive fellowships aim to grow the strong supply of talented individuals needed to ensure that UK research and innovation is world class. This is the first FLF to be granted to LJMU, and adds to the growing number of prestigious fellowships held at the Astrophysics Research Institute at LJMU. In his research, Sebastian studies star clusters, densely packed groups of stars that were formed in the collapse of gigantic gas clouds. In such…


Eagle galaxies in Galaxy Zoo

EAGLE galaxies have landed on Galaxy Zoo

Now you can help classifying simulated galaxies from the EAGLE project on the citizen' science platform Galaxy Zoo. EAGLE was run on a supercomputer using 4000 computer processors simultaneously over 4 months to generate a model universe by a large group of researchers including Dr. Rob Crain and Dr. Jaime Salcido from ARI. The simulated images that you can classify in Galaxy Zoo are going to be used by ARI's researcher Dr. Violeta Gonzalez-Perez and collaborators to explore how individual galaxies take their shape in a sophisticated simulated universe. For further information on the project… Read the Full Article
The image on the left shows that the positions of molecular clouds (blue) and emission from young stars (pink) do not coincide on small spatial scales. The two branches on the right quantify this displacement by showing that molecular clouds and young stars are only correlated when averaging over a large part of the galaxy (1,000 pc, corresponding to 3,000 lightyears).

Galaxies are cosmic cauldrons heated by star formation

Star formation within interstellar gas clouds proceeds very rapidly, yet highly inefficiently. Most of the gas is quickly dispersed by stellar radiation, revealing galaxies to be highly dynamic systems, like “cosmic cauldrons”, consisting of building blocks that constantly change their appearance. A team of scientists led by astrophysicist Dr. Diederik Kruijssen from Heidelberg University and including Liverpool John Moores University’s Professor Steve Longmore has come to these conclusions based on new observations of the spiral galaxy NGC300. It is one of the main unsolved problems in…
NGC 6822 "Barnard's Galaxy" (Credit: ESO)

ARI PhD student observes a newly discovered Classical Nova eruption in Barnard's Galaxy

A UK-US team, led by ARI PhD student Mike Healy have discovered and investigated a Classical Nova eruption in the nearby “Barnard’s Galaxy”. These observations utilised many different telescopes, including the ARI’s own Liverpool Telescope and the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory. This work has recently been published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Novae are huge nuclear explosions that occur every 1,000-100,000 years on the surface of white dwarfs – the dense extinguished cores of stars that were once like our own Sun. But unlike our Sun, these white dwarfs are in… Read the Full Article

Astronomers discover 2,000-year-old nova remnant

ARI researcher Sebastian Kamann helps confirm ancient Chinese sighting For the first time, researchers have discovered the remains of a nova in a globular cluster. A nova is a transient astronomical event, observed when a star suddenly becomes almost 100,000 times brighter than the Sun and then slowly fades. This happens in binary systems – one star accretes gas from its companion, triggering an eruption on the surface of the accreting star. The material ejected in the eruption forms a slowly expanding nebula that can survive for centuries, long after the nova has faded. It was the glow from… Read the Full Article

Astrophysics Research Institute PhD student receives only UK award from NASA

LJMU has the highest number of Hubble Fellowships in the UK, as one of their latest awards goes to an Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) student straight out of her PhD. Dr Emma Beasor was also the only UK student awarded a Fellowship this year. Dr Emma Beasor’s postgraduate research has shown that the amount of mass stars lose before they explode is much lower than previously thought, meaning that black-holes could form at a much higher rate. Now this work has been recognised by NASA who want her to develop the research through their Hubble Fellowship, making her one of the youngest ever… Read the Full Article
Hannah Dalgleish posing questions to parliamentarians ,

ARI student speaks to parliament

Voice of the Future 2019: Brexit, climate change, and the STEM skills gap Hannah Dalgleish, Astrophysics PhD student at LJMU Tuesday 12th March, 2019 – seventeen days before the UK is set to leave the EU – one hundred young scientists came together in the Palace of Westminster to pose forty of the most pressing questions concerning young people in science today. I was invited to represent the Royal Astronomical Society and the Institute of Physics, out of a total of twenty-three different organisations – including one local high school. Unsurprisingly, Brexit dominated the discussion,…
GAMA survey image of a typical ‘Low Surface Brightness Galaxy’, one of the most abundant types of galaxies in the Universe, characterised by their diffuse blue starlight. By definition, they are faint which make them hard to detect, and often missed by galaxy surveys. Image: I. Baldry & L. Kelvin (ARI/LJMU) / GAMA / KiDS , Some of the new galaxies  discovered in the IAC Stripe 82 Legacy Survey images; detected for the first time by looking at the positions of supernovae. Dashed ellipse shows the galaxy, crosses indicate positions of the supernovae. In the right-hand image that there may even be additional uncatalogued faint galaxies. Image: T. Sedgwick & L. Kelvin (ARI/LJMU) / J. Fliri & I. Trujillo (IAC) / SDSS

PhD student discovers 140 new galaxies

Tom Sedgwick, PhD student at the Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI), has with a team of ARI astronomers discovered 140 new and previously unknown galaxies. His findings due to be published in April’s edition of the prestigious journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. These previously unknown galaxies were found whilst searching for exploding stars, known as supernovae. Supernovae are the violent ends to the lives of the most massive stars. When these stars stop burning their nuclear fuel, they quickly become unstable and their cores collapse, giving rise to some of the…

Public Lecture: Clusters of Galaxies: Light in the dark spaces

Thursday 4th April 2019 at 6:30PM Central Teaching Hub, Liverpool University The 2019 John Porter Memorial Lecture given by Prof Chris Collins Understanding the evolution of mass at the centres of clusters of galaxies is essential if we are to be confident that we can explain structure in the wider universe. However, current telescopes and surveys find it difficult to measure the faint light between the galaxies - the Intra-Cluster Light or ICL - even though in total this can be more significant than the more concentrated light of the central galaxy. This talk will look at current… Read the Full Article
Moon: Art, Science, Culture

Public Lecture: Moon: Art, Science, Culture.

Monday 13th May 2019 at 6PMRedmonds Building, Brownlow Hill, Liverpool   Humans have been fascinated with our nearest heavenly body, the Earth’s Moon, since prehistoric times. In 2019 it will be 50 years since we set foot on the Moon during the Apollo space missions. Join astronomer Dr Robert Massey and art historian Dr Alexandra Loske for an illustrated talk about how our obsession with the Moon has manifested itself in the sciences and visual arts, from earliest ritualistic drawings and objects, Romantic symbolism and silent movies, to scientific observation, photography, and space race…
This is a composite image of Liverpool Telescope data (bottom left) and Hubble Space Telescope data (top right) of the nova super-remnant. M31N 2008-12a is in the middle of the image.

ARI-led team uncovers a nova super-remnant in the Andromeda Galaxy

An ARI-led international team of astrophysicists have uncovered an enormous bubble current being ‘blown’ by the regular eruptions from a binary star system within the Andromeda Galaxy. This work has today been published in Nature. Recent observations with the Liverpool Telescope and Hubble Space Telescope, supported by spectroscopy from the Gran Telescopio Canarias, and the Hobby Eberly Telescope (some of the largest astronomy facilities on Earth) discovered this enormous shell-like nebula surrounding ‘M31N 2008-12a’, a recurrent novae located in our neighbouring Andromeda Galaxy.  At almost… Read the Full Article


Postdoctoral position in computational galaxy formation

Applications are invited for a postdoctoral research position in cosmological simulations, to work with staff in the Computational and Theoretical Galaxy Formation group at the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool John Moores University, UK.  The goal of the proposed research is to develop state-of-the-art cosmological hydrodynamical simulations to simultaneously test theories of galaxy formation and dark sector physics and to aid the interpretation of upcoming wide-field surveys, such as LSST, Euclid, SKA, DESI, and various X-ray and CMB missions. You should have a PhD in astronomy/… Read the Full Article

Supersharp images from new adaptive optics system

The Very Large Telescope, Europe's flagship optical observatory, has recently been equipped with a new adaptive optics system. It allows astronomers to take images with a sharpness that is not even achieved by the Hubble space telescope. ARI scientist Sebastian Kamann was involved in the first observations performed with the new system. He aims to use it to study the motions of stars in the centres of star clusters in unprecedented detail. Read the Full Article

MULTI-POP interview with EU Researcher Magazine

EU Research inverviewed Professor Nate Bastian about the Multi-Pops project’s work in studying globular clusters, which could lead to new insights into how galaxies are assembled Read the Full Article

Our study suggests the elusive ‘neutrino’ could make up a significant part of dark matter

Physicists trying to understand the fundamental structure of nature rely on consistent theoretical frameworks that can explain what we see and simultaneously make predictions that we can test. On the smallest scale of elementary particles, the standard model of particle physics provides the basis of our understanding. On the scale of the cosmos, much of our understanding is based on “standard model of cosmology”. Informed by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, it posits that the most of the mass and energy in the universe is made up of mysterious, invisible substances known as dark… Read the Full Article

LJMU scientist wins silver award in Parliament

Dr Claire Burke, an Astro-ecologist at LJMU’s Astrophysics Research Institute, was awarded the silver prize for physical sciences in Parliament at STEM for BRITAIN. Claire was shortlisted from hundreds of applicants to present her physics research to a range of politicians and a panel of expert judges. Her poster on her research using knowledge from astrophysics to help conservation of endangered animals on Earth was judged against dozens of other scientists’ research in the only national competition of its kind. On presenting her research in Parliament, she said, “I'm really delighted to… Read the Full Article

Dance of galaxies challenges current thinking on cosmology

Scientists have a pretty good picture of how the universe formed and evolved – and how it is structured today. This knowledge all fits together nicely as a “standard cosmological model”, which has been able to successfully predict and describe many observational data in the universe. But now and then scientists discover something that threatens to tear down this valuable framework. New research, published in Science, has done just that. The paper reports that a number of “satellite dwarf galaxies” – small galaxies orbiting around the much larger galaxy, Centaurus A – are rotating in… Read the Full Article

Study of distant galaxies challenges our understanding of how stars form

The most massive galaxies in our neighbourhood formed their stars billions of years ago, early in the history of the universe. At the present day, they produce very few new stars. Astronomers have long believed that is because they contain very little gas – a key ingredient necessary to produce stars. But our new study, published in Nature Astronomy, is now challenging this long held view. Read the Full Article


Seven things you didn’t know about astrophysics in Liverpool

Following the news that Liverpool John Moores University’s Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) has been awarded 1.7 million euros from the European Research Council (ERC), we thought it was the perfect time to tell you all about the ARI and the cosmic things that they do. The ARI offers a joint degree programme in both BSc and MPhys with the University of Liverpool – bringing together the expertise and facilities of two institutions that are highly regarded nationally and internationally – and student satisfaction rates are 100% at Masters level and 98% at Undergraduate level. Impressive,… Read the Full Article

£1.2m win for LJMU as STFC supports cutting edge research at ARI

The Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) has won a £1.2m grant from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), to support cutting-edge research at Liverpool John Moores University. The funds will be investing in key projects led by ARI staff, including: the evolution of massive stars and their subsequent stellar explosions as supernovae observations of the polarized light from some of the most energetic explosions in the Universe, work which follows on from the successful Liverpool Telescope observations of gamma-ray bursts studying the star formation activity in the centre of… Read the Full Article

EU Horizon 2020 funding to uncover the ‘dark side’ of the Universe

We owe our very existence to dark matter. Galaxies as we know them, stars, planets, and people would not exist without its presence. Yet we still have very little understanding of its nature and origin. Equally mysterious is the so-called 'dark energy', which is believed to be an exotic fluid that fills empty space and is thought to be driving the recently-discovered accelerating expansion rate of the Universe. What is the physical origin of dark energy and how does it evolve with time? The answer to these questions rule the fate of our Universe. Liverpool John Moores University’s … Read the Full Article

ARI feature in a South Africa TV documentary on the riverine rabbit

The riverine rabbit is one of the rarest mammals on the planet, with less than 300 of them remaining. A team of researchers from ARI feature in the South Africa documentary series, “Carte Blanche”, using thermal imaging techniques developed from astronomy to help prevent the total extinction of these elusive creatures. See the clip on the Carte Blanche DSTV website here (9 mins). For more information contact Dr Steve Longmore, Dr Claire Burke or Maisie Rashman. Read the Full Article

Astronomers and space scientists from across Europe to link up in Liverpool

The European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) 2018 will be taking place in Liverpool for the first time next April (3-6) at the Arena & Convention Centre. Held jointly with the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool John Moores University, the European Astronomical Society, and the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM) of the Royal Astronomical Society, the event is expected to welcome well over 1000 astrophysicists, planetary scientists and solar physicists from all over Europe and beyond, with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) as one of the main sponsors… Read the Full Article

LJMU to benefit from £1million ’Big Data’ training centre

Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Liverpool and have been awarded £1m for a new Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in data intensive science (LIVDAT). The award is part of £10million investment from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) to support eight new data intensive science CDTs across the UK. The constant advancement of computer technology has had a profound impact on science and industry, making possible some of the most important discoveries in recent years. Thanks to increasingly powerful technology, researchers can gather, store and utilise… Read the Full Article

New era of gravitational wave astronomy

For the first time ever, astronomers have observed both gravitational waves and light (electromagnetic radiation) from the same event thanks to a global collaborative effort and a quick reaction time from observatories around the world, including notably the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO’s) facilities in Chile and the participation of scientists of the Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) based at Liverpool John Moores University. These ground-breaking observations suggest that this unique object is the result of a merger of two neutron stars. This discovery, published in several… Read the Full Article

Is there beer in space?

RI astronomer Steve Longmore discusses beer in space with BBC Radio Merseyside's Tony Snell as part of the stations SciFri radio segment. Catch the full show on BBC Radio iPlayer here (registration required). The SciFri beer discussion starts at 01:52:40 until 01:59:40. Science Fridays is an initiative which sees academics from across Merseyside speak on BBC Radio Merseyside every Friday morning at 8:50am. Listen to BBC Radio Merseyside on 95.8FM, 1485AM, digital or online Read the Full Article

Times Higher Award shortlisting for ‘star-shattering’ research project

New technology using Artificial Intelligence alongside the famous Liverpool Telescope (LT), has been shortlisted for a Times Higher Education Award for Research Project of the Year 2017. The Liverpool Telescope (LT) is the largest robotic telescope in the world, and the scientists behind it, based at Liverpool John Moores University’s Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI), have designed and built a system that observes and classifies new stars with minimal human intervention. SPRAT (SPectrograph for the Rapid Analysis of Transients) combines science, technology and outreach in a combination… Read the Full Article

Stargazing: Astronomy from the Edge of the World

ARI astronomer discusses the ALMA observatory and the origins of life in space with Dava Sobel in BBC Radio World Service program, “The Compass". Hear a clip of the show on the BBC website here (2 minutes). Hear the full show on the BBC website here (registration required, 27 minutes). Read the Full Article

Drones to the rescue: wildlife park footage will help save endangered animals

Probably not your typical commuter chit-chat but when neighbours Serge Wich, an LJMU primatologist, and Steven Longmore, an astrophysicist at ARI, got talking on the train to work one day they realised by joining forces they could develop an innovative solution to help protect endangered wildlife. By combining drone technology, used by conservationists, and thermal imaging cameras, used by astronomers, they are able to detect and classify the heat signatures of animals. The team are capturing the unique thermal profiles of rhinos, baboons and other residents of Knowsley Safari Park to build… Read the Full Article

Gamma-ray burst captured in unprecedented detail

Gamma-ray bursts are among the most energetic and explosive events in the universe. They are also short-lived, lasting from a few milliseconds to about a minute. This has made it tough for astronomers to observe a gamma-ray burst in detail. Using a wide array of ground- and space-based telescope observations, an international team including Liverpool John Moores University and led by University of Maryland constructed one of the most detailed descriptions of a gamma-ray burst to date. The event, named GRB160625B, revealed key details about the initial “prompt” phase of gamma-ray bursts and… Read the Full Article

Tales from the Liverpool Telescope

The Liverpool Telescope (LT), owned and operated by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), formed part of the National Schools' Observatory (NSO) exhibition at this year's Royal Air Force (RAF) Cosford Air Show, helping to lead an educational exhibition on astronomy and spaceflight. The LT section was attended by scientists from the LJMU Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI), on hand to answer questions about the facility and its proposed 4-metre successor "LT2". This included how the Liverpool Telescope helped to find seven Earth-sized worlds earlier this year. It also featured life-size… Read the Full Article

ARI astronomer receives VC Award for Excellence in Research

Each year LJMU presents its prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Research, Scholarship & Knowledge Transfer to staff who are using research to increase our knowledge and understanding of key issues, and develop innovative solutions to challenges facing society today. This year’s recipients are worthy winners, and their exciting work reflects the vibrant research community in operation across the University. The prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Medal was awarded to Dr Chris Copperwheat, who leads gravitational wave and exoplanet research in the Astrophysics Research… Read the Full Article

Could cold spot in the sky be a bruise from a collision with a parallel universe?

Scientists have long tried to explain the origin of a mysterious, large and anomalously cold region of the sky. In 2015, they came close to figuring it out as a study showed it to be a “supervoid” in which the density of galaxies is much lower than it is in the rest of the universe. However, other studies haven’t managed to replicate the result. Now new research led by Durham University, submitted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, suggests the supervoid theory doesn’t hold up. Intriguingly, that leaves open a pretty wild possibility – the cold spot… Read the Full Article

LJMU astronomer helps uncover new object in famous galaxy

Pointing the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope in New Mexico at a famous galaxy for the first time in two decades, a team of astronomers from the Astrophysics Research Institute at Liverpool John Moores University and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory got a big surprise, finding that a bright new object had appeared near the galaxy's core. The object, the scientists concluded, is either a very rare type of supernova explosion or, more likely, an outburst from a second supermassive black hole closely orbiting the galaxy's primary, central supermassive black hole. All large… Read the Full Article

Shooting for the stars: capturing the beauty of science through astrophotography

When thinking about the types of photographs that capture the beauty of science, a stunning landscape or an animal in its natural habitat might come to mind. But when it comes to images from telescopes, we might not immediately consider these as anything more than the collection of scientific data. Beyond their significance in helping us to discover more about our universe, the images of galaxies, planets and stars are also appreciated purely for aesthetic reasons. For many amateur and professional astrophotographers capturing the shapes and colours of the universe is just as important as… Read the Full Article

New research opportunities with GROWTH for the Astrophysics Research Institute

The Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) has been named as an official partner in the GROWTH (Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen) scientific collaboration, setting up exciting research opportunities in a range of areas to tell us more about the Universe, from time domain astrophysics to fast-changing events in the cosmos like supernovae, neutron stars, black hole mergers, and near-earth asteroids. GROWTH is led by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and works through the coordinated efforts of international teams and facilities to continuously gather data… Read the Full Article

New Centre for Doctoral Training in Data Intensive Science: LIV.DAT

Recent years have witnessed a dramatic increase of data in many fields of science and engineering, due to the advancement of sensors, mobile devices, biotechnology, digital communication, space technology and internet applications. However, currently very little targeted training is provided to address a growing skills gap in this area. In response, we are creating a new Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in data intensive science which will be hosted jointly by the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University. As part of this initiative, the Astrophysics Research Institute… Read the Full Article

LJMU at the forefront of the search for other-Earths

The discovery of a system of seven Earth-sized planets just 40 light-years away was made possible by a team of astronomers from across the world.  The research, published in Nature, was led by the STAR Institute at the University of Liège. It used orbiting NASA Spitzer Space Telescope in addition to ground-based facilities including the Liverpool Telescope, owned and operated by the Liverpool John Moores University Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI). The Liverpool Telescope helped to detect the planets as they passed in front of their parent star, the ultracool dwarf star known as… Read the Full Article

The solution from the skies to save endangered species

our hundred years ago Galileo created a revolution by pointing his telescope to the skies. Now an astrophysicist and an ecologist from Liverpool John Moores University are reversing this perspective to help endangered species including rhinos and orang-utans. The world’s first astrophysics-ecology drone project, could be the answer to many global conservation efforts. The authors of the study, published in the International Journal of remote Sensing, have brought together their expertise using drones, thermal cameras and the techniques used to analyse objects in space to find a solution to… Read the Full Article

Scientists from the ARI launch a new citizen science project to classify galaxies in the local Universe

Scientists based at the ARI have launched a new project enlisting the support of citizen scientist volunteers from around the world to help classify the morphologies of 50,000 galaxies in the local Universe. ARI scientists from the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey have teamed up with Galaxy Zoo, a crowdsourced astronomy project which invites members of the public to help classify the shapes and structures of large numbers of galaxies. Our sample of galaxy images were observed on the 2.6m VLT Survey Telescope (VST) located at the ESO Paranal Observatory in Chile by the VST Kilo-Degree (… Read the Full Article