Press room

219 million Stars

(Royal Astronomical Society 16 September 2014)


A new catalogue of the visible part of the northern part of our home Galaxy, the Milky Way, includes no fewer than 219 million stars. Geert Barentsen of the University of Hertfordshire led a team who assembled the catalogue in a ten year programme, IPHAS. IPHAS was started at Imperial College and uses the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) on La Palma in the Canary Islands. The work appears today in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Read the full article.

Herschel astronomers surprised by hfsl3 galaxy producing new stars

(Imperial College 18 April 2013)


Astronomers using Europe's Herschel Space Observatory have discovered a distant galaxy that challenges the current theories of galaxy evolution. Read the full article.


scientists unveil map of the universe at 380,000 years old

(Imperial College 22 March 2013)


Latest pcitures from Planck satelite have mapped the whole Universe as it was just after the Big Bang. Read the full article.


(Imperial College 29 January 2013)


A new study by Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson and Dr Brian May has modelled the space dust in the solar system. Read the full article.


(Royal Astronomical Society 2 February 2012)


Current galaxy formation models commonly assume that energetic outflows from central black holes remove gas, which is the fuel for star formation, and hinder the growth of the galaxy. This study, using the new Wide Field Camera 3 on board the Hubble Space Telescope, indicates that, in some circumstance, the truth is diametrically opposite - that outflows may indeed induce rather than quench star formation. Does this imply a revision of the physics of black hole feedback employed in our standard models?


Read the RAS press release hereThe observational work in this project is being led by Sugata Kaviraj of Imperial College London.



(Imperial College 25 October 2011)


Imperial scientists are planning to take physics to new limits with two missions given the rubber stamp by the European Space Agency (ESA) this month, known as Solar Orbiter and Euclid. The Euclid mission will address key questions of dark energy and dark matter, which are fundamental to physics and cosmology, and search for clues to the early expansion of the universe. Through a massive 'near-infrared digital camera', Euclid will survey far distant parts of space using faint light that started its journey shortly after the event of the Big Bang.

Read the full article


(Imperial College Press Release 30 June 2011)


An international team of astronomers has announced the discovery of the most distant quasar yet seen. The quasar is an extremely bright source of light visible at infrared wavelengths, emitted as gas falls into a very massive black hole. The scientists have named it ULAS J1120+0641. The discovery came to light thanks to data from an ongoing survey of the sky that is being conducted by scientists at the UK Infrared Telescope in Hawaii. Dr Daniel Mortlock from Imperial College London is lead author on the paper describing the discovery, which is published in the journal Nature today.

Read the full article

Firestorm of Star Birth in the Active Galaxy Centaurus A

(16 June 2011)


The Hubble Space Telescope's new Wide Field Camera 3 has imaged the giant elliptical galaxy Centaurus A. Hubble's panchromatic vision, stretching from ultraviolet through near-infrared wavelengths, reveals the vibrant glow of young, blue star clusters and a glimpse into regions normally obscured by the dust. The warped shape of Centaurus A's disk of gas and dust is evidence for a past collision and merger with another galaxy. The science team for this project is led by Sugata Kaviraj of Imperial College London.


See the images here.

See the biographies of the science team members here.


Sugata Kaviraj has been selected to organise a Joint Discussion Meeting (UV Emission in Early-type Galaxies) at the next International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly, to be held in Beijing in August 2012. The primary criterion for selection of meeting proposals is scientific excellence and relevance to current frontier research. For the General Assembly, the selection panels also pay particular attention to the diversity of proposed topics and recent IAU Symposia. A list of selected Joint Discussion Meetings can be found at:


This Joint Discussion Meeting will focus on recent efforts to understand enhanced ultraviolet (UV) emission in early-type galaxies. The excess UV emission in these galaxies – which are dominated by cool, old stars – is a long-standing mystery. Contributions may come from both evolved stars (the 'UV upturn' phenomenon) and young stars. While well-studied observationally, the source of the UV upturn - e.g. horizontal-branch stars vs. binary stars – is intensely debated. Similarly, while small mass fractions of young stars are present in ETGs, the principal driver of this star formation (mass loss, minor mergers) remains elusive. Building on the intense recent activity in UV studies of ETGs, the meeting will aim to deliver a timely and comprehensive discussion of this subject and motivate studies using future instruments e.g. the JWST and ELTs.


(London, May 2011)


Imperial College Astrophysics group members Prof Andrew Jaffe, Dr Dave Clements and Dr Roberto Trotta have been collaborating with architects and artists to develop new thinking on the themes of Mechanical energy, Thermal energy and Potential energy, as part of an international team of scientists, architects and artists working towards exploring the concept of energy. This research cluster is coordinated and directed by the Architectural Association School of Architecture.


Their work, including an impossible pinball machine and a surreal time machine, is on show at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES, until May 26th 2011, and it has featured in Nature (subscription required).

Hubble Shows New Image of Spiral Galaxy NGC 2841

(17 Feb 2011)


NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has produced new images of the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 2841. The Hubble images reveal a majestic disk of stars and dust lanes in this view of the spiral galaxy NGC 2841, which lies 46 million light-years away in the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear). This image was taken in 2010 through four different filters on Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. Wavelengths range from ultraviolet light through visible light to near-infrared light. 


The construction of the images was led by Sugata Kaviraj (Imperial College London) and Mark Crockett (University of Oxford).  See the biographies of the team members here



(18 Jan 2011)


Sugata Kaviraj has been awarded the 2011 Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) 'A' Winton Capital award. The award, in the form of a £1,000 prize, is awarded to the Research Fellow in a UK institution in astronomy whose career has shown the most promise. The RAS commented that "he has an outstanding record of research focussed on the stellar populations and evolution of early-type (elliptical) galaxies, analysing them in ultraviolet light using the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX). Significantly, he found that rather than being 'red and dead' objects, they contain significant populations of young and intermediate age stars. Dr Kaviraj is exceptionally productive for an early career scientist, with more than 30 refereed papers in the last 4 years".


See the full RAS citation here.

Hubble Captures New Life in an Ancient Galaxy

(18 Nov 2010)


A team of researchers, including Sugata Kaviraj of Imperial College London, have used the revolutionary capabilities of the new Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope to perform a comprehensive analysis of young stars in the elliptical galaxy NGC 4150. While ellipticals were traditionally thought to contain only old stars, a quantitative analysis of the Hubble images of NGC 4150, led by Kaviraj, reveals clear evidence of recent star formation, driven by the accretion of a gas-rich satellite that is roughly 1/20th of its stellar mass. This research will feature in the 2011/12 edition of the Hubble Science Year in Review, an annual collection of essays on the most important Hubble science. 


See the full NASA/ESA press release here.

Read the paper describing this research in the Astrophysical Journal here.  


Satellite uncovers new supercluster

ESA Press Release (Sep 2010)


Observations of the Sunyaev-Zeldovich Effect - the imprint of hot dense gas in foreground galaxy clusters on the cosmic background radiation - have allowed Planck to detect clusters of galaxies and have revealed a previously unknown supercluster of galaxies.


For more information see the ESA Press release.

Beyond entropy: When energy becomes form

Re-thinking Energy: World leading artists, architects and scientists come together to develop new thinking about energy 


Collateral event 12th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice, Aug 26th - Sept 19th 2010. 

Work from an ambitious project developing a new paradigm about Energy from the Architectural Association School, London, will be on show as a Collateral Event of the 12th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice from 26 August until 19 September 2010.  The work is supported by a free symposium featuring world leading artists, architects and scientists on 27 August 2010.

Called Beyond Entropy: When Energy Becomes Form and sponsored by Digital Technology Solutions, RePower and Bersi Serlini, the project and symposium are set in the context of the urgent requirement of global energy and how this issue impacts on politics, economics and cultures across the globe.  In a world first, 24 leading artists, architects and scientists led by AA School architect Stefano Rabolli Pansera are pioneering an enquiry that fuses science, architecture and artistic collaboration to develop new ways of thinking about energy. 


For further information, see the AA press release here.

Planck's first All-Sky Image Released

ESA Press Release (July 2010)


The Planck Consortium and the European Space Agency releases the first all sky image to be produced by the Planck Satellite. Previous releases have focussed on particular regions of the sky, the new release covers the whole sky, showing it at wavelengths that have been previously unstudied.


For further information, see the ESA press release here

SEARCHING for space dust

BBC News Online Slideshow (May 2010)


Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson narrates a slideshow of the latest results from the Herschel Space Telescope and discusses the history and results of infrared astronomy.


Searching for Space Dust


Looking back through time: new Images from Planck

Imperial College Press Release (25 March 2010)


New images from European Space Agency's (ESA) Planck mission, which involves researchers at Imperial College London, reveal details of the structure of the coldest regions in our Galaxy. These images are a scientific by-product of a mission which will ultimately provide the sharpest picture ever of the early Universe.


Read the full article and hear an interview with Dr David Clements

A Star is Born

Imperial College Press Release (18 December 2009)

The European Space Agency has released a preview of the first science results from the Herschel Space Observatory, including the UK-led SPIRE instrument. The new data which include images of previously invisible stardust - the stuff that all life is made from - will give us valuable new information about how stars and galaxies are made and reveal the life cycle of the cosmos.

Physicists from Imperial College London played a key role in conceiving, designing and developing the SPIRE instrument over the last 20 years, and more recently have been instrumental in developing the software to convert masses of raw data from space into the pictures released by the European Space Agency today.

Read the full article


Why we shouldn't release all we know about the cosmos

New Scientist (2 December 2009)

The European Space Agency's Planck mission is busy surveying the cosmic microwave background, aka the 'echo' of the big bang, and in 2013 will release a feast of data that promises to deliver profound new insights into the origin of the universe. Surely a victory for science? Only, it seems, if cosmologists can resist the temptation to gorge themselves on all those goodies... The answer, according to Roberto Trotta of Imperial College London, is to be frugal with what you let the cosmologists see. Instead of giving out all the data at once, the supply should be rationed. Drip-feeding will allow the development of new hypotheses which can be tested as more of the Planck information is released. If we don't adopt this approach, we risk wasting the finest cosmology data set we have ever had, and remaining forever in the dark. 

Read the full article

Coverage (in Italian) on Swiss newspaper "Corriere del Ticino" 


Herschel'S Cameras combine to show the galaxy in a new light

Imperial College Press Release (02 October 2009)


The Herschel Space Observatory has produced spectacular new images of interstellar material in our galaxy, using the UK-led SPIRE camera in tandem with Herschel's other camera, PACS. The new pictures, made during the first trial run with the two instruments operating at the same time, have unveiled a small part of our Milky Way Galaxy as we have never seen it before, and bode well for one of Herschel's main scientific projects, which is to survey large areas of the galaxy.

Read the full article


Space 'time machine' takes first glimpse into the past

Imperial College Press Release (17 September 2009)


The Planck space observatory, the European Space Agency's mission to study the early Universe, has successfully completed its initial test survey of the sky, it was announced today. The test confirms that Planck's sophisticated cooling system and scientific instruments, which Imperial College London physicists played a key role in developing, are working well.

Read the full article


Imperial college press office 

Hayley Dunning

Research Media Officer (Natural Sciences)

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7594 2412

Email: h.dunning@ null