Astrophysics

Department

The Department of Astrophysics (part of Institute for Mathematics, Astrophysics and Particle Physics and research school NOVA) makes new discoveries that add to our knowledge of the Universe with high-quality equipment and expertise. Research topics include black holes and neutron stars, astroparticle physics and gravity waves, as well as how objects in a galactic environment form and evolve. 
 

Research FacilitiesEducation Public outreach

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Highlights

Uitsnede van Abell 2390, waarop een groep gelensde sterrenstelsels te zien is. Credit: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA, image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre (CEA Paris-Saclay), G. Anselmi

The first scientific images from the Euclid telescope surpass all expectations

ESA has published five images taken with the Euclid space telescope. According to astronomers working with the data, these images surpass all expectations and demonstrate that Euclid is capable of unraveling the secrets of the universe.

Zwarte gat in centrum van de Melkweg in gepolariseerd licht

Astronomers unveil strong magnetic fields spiraling at the edge of Milky Way’s central black hole

A new image from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration has shows the edge of the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*) in polarized light. The results were published today in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Portretfoto Conny Aerts

Conny Aerts receives Crafoord Prize for astronomy

Professor of Asteroseismology Conny Aerts, affiliated with Radboud University and KU Leuven, has been awarded the Crafoord Prize for astronomy.

Research

The Astrophysics department aims to perform world leading research to understand how highly energetic astrophysical phenomena are caused and affect their surroundings. The department defines seven overarching research themes within the research mission.  

Black Holes and Accretion onto Compact Objects 

Understanding the physics and signatures of black holes and neutron stars is a key research theme at the Department of Astrophysics. Compact objects are typically revealed through accretion, the accumulation of matter on the compact object. Research focuses on studying these accretion flows and their associated jets together with the interaction between the jets, accretion disk and the compact object with their environment.

Coordinators: Falcke, Groot, Jonker, Levan, Klein Wolt, Körding, Mościbrodzka, Janssen

Cosmic Rays

The origin of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays is unknown. Where do they come from, how do they get their high energies, how are their paths affected by intergalactic and Galactic magnetic fields, can we trace them back once detected on Earth? This research theme aims to understand the origin of the highest-energy particles in the Universe. This is achieved by precisely measuring their properties and studying their propagation in the Galaxy and beyond as well as their interactions within the Earth’s atmosphere.

Coordinators: Hörandel, Mulrey

Galactic Ecology / Planet Formation and Exoplanets 

Events in the Universe are never isolated, but occur in a galactic setting: objects form, evolve, collide, merge, emit and transmit radiation. To understand extreme physics it is imperative to also understand the Galactic ecology. This research theme aims to understand the effect of mass-loss on binary evolution, as well as on the chemical evolution within star clusters and galaxies. Research topic also include the orbital and chemical properties of binaries, and exploration of which remnants belong to which objects.

Coordinators: Waters

Data Science

Modern instruments and observatories produce huge amounts of data. Advanced analysis methods are needed to process, search and store these data. Simulations and complex numerical models are increasingly required to fully understand these data. This leads to the use of huge computer clusters and generation of large data volumes which requires special resources. At the Department of Astrophysics new methods are developed to enable these complex operations, while also significantly reducing the associated CO2 emissions.

Gravitational Waves and Transients 

A hundred years after the prediction of gravitational waves through Einstein, the first direct measurement of gravitational waves was achieved in 2015. At the Department of Astronomy studies focus on the discovery of new sources, using their population properties in connection with simulations to identify the origin of sources. In addition, multi-messenger observations are used to study the physics of mergers and as cosmology probes. Instrumentation for gravitational wave detection is developed by the Radboud Radio Lab.

Coordinators: Groot, Jonker, Levan, Nelemans, Pols

Milky Way, Nearby Galaxies and Star Clusters 

Magnetic fields fill up the interstellar medium, but are difficult to detect and characterise. The Department of Astrophysics leads Dutch efforts to produce and analyse maps of diffuse polarised radio emission and the associated Faraday rotation to interpret properties of, and trace structure in, the magnetic fields in the interstellar medium. A complementary method is through the optical interstellar polarisation of starlight. The Department pioneers using these measurements in the diffuse interstellar medium to probe the Galactic magnetic field.

Coordinators: Aerts, Groot, Haverkorn, Hörandel, Janssen, Larsen, Levan, Nelemans, Pols

Instrumentation 

The Radboud Radio Lab designs and builds state of the art astronomical instruments for research projects of the Department of Astrophysics. Activities focus on low-power electronics, including software, system engineering and project management for instrumentation covering all frequency regimes and technologies used in astronomy. Serving both ground-based and space-based applications, The unique expertise at the Radboud Radio Lab operates on the boundary between science and industry, providing an interface between astronomers and engineers.

Coordinators: Falcke, Groot, Hörandel, Klein Wolt, Nelemans

Publications

The scientific contributions of researchers of the department can be found in the astrophysics data system (ADS).

Publications archive

Projects

Telescope under the night sky

Africa Millimetre Telescope

Astronomers from Radboud University have teamed up with the University of Namibia to realise a millimetre-wave radio telescope in Africa, to provide an essential link in the network of telescopes around the globe known as the Event Horizon Telescope.

BlackGEM telescope array

BlackGEM telescope array

When neutron stars and black holes collide, gravitational waves are released and a hot luminous ring of gas is created. BlackGEM is a series of telescopes that helps researchers to more accurately determine where a collision has occurred.

Solar Orbiter Mission

Solar Orbiter Mission

Solar Orbiter is a mission dedicated to solar and heliospheric physics. It was selected as the first medium-class mission of ESA's Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Programme.

Discover more projects

Facilities

Telescopes

The Astrophysics department has two optical telescopes and a radio interferometer with two radio dishes. The telescopes are accessible to a broad range of users, encompassing students, astronomers, and proficient amateur observers.

Learn more about the telescopes

Radboud Radio Lab

The Radboud Radio Lab is dedicated to support the instrument development for all the astronomical projects in the department, by providing manpower and facilities in a state-of-the-art laboratory at the Faculty of Science. 

Learn more about Radboud Radio Lab

Education

Bachelor's

Researchers of the department are involved in the Bachelor's Physics and Astronomy and several courses in other programmes at the Faculty of Science. 

Courses include: Exoplanets, Extreme Astrophysics, Galaxies, Gas Dynamics, Introduction to General Relativity, Kaleidoscope Astronomy, Molecules in Space, Newtonian Cosmology, Observational Astronomy, Origin of the Elements, Radiation Processes, Space Astronomy, Stellar Evolution.

Master's

In the Master's specialisation Particle and Astrophysics students dive into extreme worlds and unravel the inner workings of the universe from the smallest to the largest scales. It is also possible to follow the interdisciplinary Master's synergy track Gravity+ that reflects the unique Radboud expertise on the role of gravity in the universe. 

Courses in the Master's programmes include: Advanced Stellar and Binary Evolution, Astronomical Instrumentation and Data Analysis, Astroparticle Physics, Black Holes and Accretion, Compact Binaries and Gravitational Wave Sources, Formation and Evolution of Galaxies.

PhD 

The PhD programme at the Radboud University has an excellent track record in education in astronomy. Former PhD students succeed very well on the international job market, including the most prestigious fellowships worldwide. You can do a PhD at Radboud University or at the NOVA research school.

Public outreach

Are you curious about the wonders of the Universe and eager to learn more about astronomy? Radboud University is the perfect place to satisfy your fascination with stars, galaxies, and planets. The Astrophysics department offers a variety of engaging activities, including stargazing evenings, public lectures, workshops, and projects for schools.

Stargazing evenings

Visit the telescopes during open Stargazing evenings organised with the Astronomische Kring Nijmegen. 

View all events

Private telescope tours

Book a tour to the optical telescopes specifically for your group. Get in touch with outreach [at] astro.ru.nl.

Sterrenkundeclub

Young and Starstruck? Become a member of the Sterrenkundeclub Radboud, a club for young people interested in astronomy.

Sterrenkundeclub Radboud

School programme Can you smell the Universe?

Primary school students in years 1-3 and 6-8 can join a one-day workshop to explore astronomy through experiments and the scientific method, focusing on human senses and real research topics from the Astrophysics department. The programme is also available for VMBO/HAVO and MBO years 1-2. Interested schools can email outreach [at] astro.ru.nl (outreach[at]astro[dot]ru[dot]nl) for more information.

 

About Astrophysics

The Astrophysics department is part of the Institute for Mathematics, Astrophysics and Particle Physics at the Faculty of Science at Radboud University and research school NOVA.