Institute for Astronomy


Cosmology research at the IfA

The Hubble Space Telescope Extreme Deep Field.

Members of the IfA conduct research on cosmology: the contents, laws, and history of the Universe on its largest scales. We explore many facets of this.

Some members, in collaboration with particle physicists and others, study theoretical fundamental physics, which uses the Universe as a laboratory for exploring the underlying theories of spacetime and the forces that act in it.  We also maintain close links with the Higgs Centre for Theoretical Physics, which has a similar focus.

Many members of staff are involved with current and upcoming cosmological sky surveys, both from the ground and from space.  Cosmological imaging and spectroscopic surveys provide the data to understand the Universe on its largest scales, and use some of the biggest data sets in physics.  Edinburgh has a particular specialism in the field of weak gravitational lensing, the study of gravitational fields using the distortion of light from galaxies.

The IfA also works on the computational side of cosmology, using numerical simulations to simulate the evolution of the Universe, of the distribution of Dark Matter, and of galaxies.  Creating and using these simulations informs our understanding of what our cosmic models actually predict.