Astronomy and Astrophysics

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The astronomy and astrophysics program within the Department has close ties to the efforts in gravity physics and nuclear physics, as well as between theory and observations in general.

Our department is involved in partnerships on several world class telescopes, guaranteeing observing time on these facilities. More information is available at the UNC Observatories page. We also use national facilities, including the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the Gemini Observatory, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and selected other facilities including the Australia Telescope, the Anglo-Australia Telescope, and the Keck Observatory.

Theoretical astrophysics employs data from all these facilities, aided by computational facilities in Phillips and Chapman Halls (Linux workstations) and the 1024-processor Topsail Dell research computing cluster (at 28 teraflops in 2007, it is one of the top 20 supercomputers worldwide).

Astronomical instrumentation also plays a major role in the Department, represented currently by the high-throughput, UV-efficient Goodman Spectrograph for the SOAR Telescope, development of large format volume phase holographic gratings for high-efficiency spectroscopy on telescopes up to ELT’s, robotic telescope design and construction, and work on a multi-unit, integral-field feed for the Goodman Spectrograph.