Centre for astrophysics and planetary science

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planetary science

Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science

School of Physics and Astronomy

The Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science currently consists of 9 academics, 2 postdocs and ~20 PhD and MSc students. The group’s research interests cover a large and diverse range of themes including Solar System and Space Science, the Interstellar Medium, Star Formation, Galactic Structure and Planetary Nebulae. The activities include infrared and radio astronomy, astrobiology, astrochemistry, astrofluids and numerical astrophysics.

We are part of the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Kent, based on the Canterbury Campus in South East England, around one hour from central London by train.

Kent has a rich legacy in astrophysics and planetary science since the University opened in the 1960s. The group is currently led by Dr James Urquhart and operates two research portfolios; one of Astrophysics (with foci on star formation and the structure of our galaxy; Professor Michael Smith, Dr Dirk Froebrich and Dr James Urquhart) and one in planetary science (with foci on comets & asteroids observational work and impact studies; Professors Mark Burchell and Stephen Lowry and Dr Penny Wozniakiewicz). With the arrival of Professor Nigel Mason we will be expanding our portfolio to include astrochemistry and astrobiology.

The group operates in-house research facilities (the Kent Light Gas Gun and Beacon Observatory) and has access to a large range of sophisticated analysis tools (e.g. SEMs, NMR and Raman Spectrometer) and high-performance computing facilities. We also have a good track record of winning time of world-class telescope and led the Europlanet 2024 RI consortium, which consists of 53 beneficiary institutions from 21 countries in Europe and around the world, with a further 44 affiliated partners.