Physics and Astronomy News


€4 million funding awarded to medical accelerators network

Cancer is a major health problem and it is the main cause of death between the ages of 45–65. Although significant progress has been made in the use of particle beams for cancer treatment, extensive research is still needed to maximise healthcare benefits. Improving ion beam therapy for enhanced cancer treatment is the goal of a new European research and training network that will focus on the Optimisation of Medical Accelerators (OMA).

Binary stars

Astronomers find hottest and most massive touching double star

A team of astronomers including UCL's Ian Howarth have found the hottest and most massive double star with components so close that they touch each other.

Staff Survey 2015 logo

UCL Staff Engagement Survey 2015

UCL is launching the 2015 Staff Engagement Survey on 9 November. Participating in the staff survey helps the Senior Management Team (SMT) to understand your experience of work and the working environment and how this impacts on achieving UCL’s goals. More...


UK astronomers reach deep into space and time

A three-dimensional map of the Universe, reaching deeper in space and time than any yet made, is to be produced by an international team of 200 scientists, including leading astronomers from the UK. More...

Mars (credit: NASA, ESA)

Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure launches new era of planetary collaboration in Europe

A €9.95 million project to integrate and support planetary science activities across Europe has been launched.

Nick Brook

Graduation 2015

The 2015 cohort of students from the faculty graduated this week. More...


Astronomers discover the most distant galaxy in the Universe

An international team of astrophysicists has successfully measured the most distant galaxy ever recorded, by observing its characteristic hydrogen signature in the early Universe. More...

Smashing Physics

Jon Butterworth shortlisted for popular science book prize

Prof Jon Butterworth, head of UCL Physics & Astronomy, has been shortlisted for this year's Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books. More...

Concept view of the ARIEL spacecraft. Credit: ESA

ARIEL mission to reveal 'Brave New Worlds' among exoplanets

An ambitious European mission is being planned to answer fundamental questions about how planetary systems form and evolve. ARIEL will investigate the atmospheres of several hundreds planets orbiting distant stars. It is one of three candidate missions selected last month by the European Space Agency (ESA) for its next medium class science mission, due for launch in 2026.  The ARIEL mission concept has been developed by a consortium of more than 50 institutes from 12 countries, including UK, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal.  The mission will be presented today at the Pathways 2015 conference in Bern, Switzerland, by ARIEL’s Principal Investigator, Prof Giovanna Tinetti of UCL.  More...

Positronium beam

Revealed: positronium’s behaviour in particle billiards

Collision physics can be like a game of billiards. Yet in the microscopic world, the outcome of the game is hard to predict.

Collage of photos

A new blueprint for quantum computing with photons

Quantum computers promise a step change in computational power for some important problems, such as the simulation of the properties of solid materials and chemical reactions.


Faculty teaching award winners announced

We are delighted to announce this year's winners of the Faculty of Mathematical & Physical Sciences Teaching Awards. More...

Thornton & Pickard

UCL scientists recognised in IOP awards

Two UCL scientists, Geoff Thornton and Chris Pickard, have been recognised in this year's Institute of Physics awards. More...


Winners of first UCL physics hackathon announced

PhD students from UCL Physics & Astronomy took part in the department’s first ‘hackathon’ last week. In this competition, students representing the department’s five research groups competed to complete projects in just two days. More...

First measurements of the differential positronium-formation cross-sections

Positrons are the antimatter version of electrons and so their fate in a matter world is ultimately to annihilate. However, prior to this, a positron may combine with an electron to form a matter-antimatter hybrid called positronium. This is akin to a hydrogen atom with the proton replaced by a positron. Fundamental to our understanding of the physical universe, positron and positronium are these days also acknowledged as being fantastically useful in practical applications such as probing material properties and medical diagnostics. However, there is still much that we do not know for sure about the details of the interactions of these particles with ordinary matter. For example if, in a collision with an atom or molecule, a positron captures an electron, in which directions is the positronium likely to travel and with what probability? More...

Mission themes

ESA shortlists three space missions with major UCL contributions

The European Space Agency has announced the shortlisted proposals for its next mid-sized science mission. More...

CO2 Satellite

New calculations to improve carbon dioxide monitoring from space

How light of different colours is absorbed by carbon dioxide (CO2) can now be accurately predicted using new calculations developed by a UCL-led team of scientists. This will help climate scientists studying Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions to better interpret data collected from satellites and ground stations measuring CO2. More...

Professor Bruce Swinyard

In memoriam: Professor Bruce Swinyard

May 22nd 2015 More...

Night Sky Watcher

Raman Prinja shortlisted for Royal Society book prize

Raman Prinja, professor of astrophysics in UCL Physics & Astronomy, has been shortlisted for the Royal Society Young People's Book Prize.

Dark Energy Survey

Mapping the cosmos: Dark Energy Survey creates detailed guide to spotting dark matter

Scientists on the Dark Energy Survey have released the first in a series of dark matter maps of the cosmos.

Richard Ellis

Richard Ellis to join UCL

Astronomer Richard Ellis is to join UCL's Department of Physics & Astronomy as Professor of Astrophysics. More...

Your Universe panel discussion

Your Universe festival held at UCL

The Your Universe festival was held at UCL between 26 and 28 March.

Nanosphere suspended in a cavity

Nanospheres cooled with light to explore the limits of quantum physics

A team of scientists at UCL led by Peter Barker and Tania Monteiro (UCL Physics and Astronomy) has developed a new technology which could one day create quantum phenomena in objects far larger than any achieved so far.

Micrometer Reading Manometer.jpg

Old lab instruments go on display

A display consisting of 16 items used in physics teaching at UCL in the 19th and 20th centuries has been completed on the first floor of the Physics building, outside the entrance to Lab 1 (east end). The instruments were collected over a period of several years by John O’Brien, the former Laboratory Superintendent who retired in 2013, and Derek Thomas, Lab 1 technician, who prepared them for display and procured an illuminated glass case to house them. More...

Polarisation of the Cosmic Microwave Background

A brand new sky from Planck

New maps from ESA's Planck satellite, forming the second major data release (February 2015) from the project, have unveiled the polarised light from the early Universe across the entire sky, revealing that the first stars formed much later than previously thought. More...