Oxford Physics has produced the first edition of an annual newsletter, aiming to describe the wide range of work that we do in front-line research, teaching, public outreach and school education. We would welcome contributions to future newsletters from undergraduate or postgraduate alumni and previous members of the physics department.
The T2K experiment, whose primary purpose is to study neutrino interactions at a large distance from their source, has detected 6 electron neutrino candidate events based on the data collected before March 11, 2011. For the first time, it was possible to observe an indication that muon neutrinos are able to transform into electron neutrinos over a distance of 295 km through the quantum mechanical phenomena of neutrino flavor oscillations.
An international team, including Oxford University scientists, has discovered ten new planets. Amongst them is one orbiting a star perhaps only a few tens of million years old, twin Neptune-sized planets, and a rare Saturn-like world.
The planets were detected using the CoRoT (Convection, Rotation and Transits) space telescope, operated by the French space agency CNES. It discovers planets outside our solar system – exoplanets – when they ‘transit’, that is pass in front of their stars.
Is the Milky Way a typical galaxy? What can we learn about it from looking at its nearest neighbours, the Magellanic Clouds? Comparing a giant numerical simulation of millions of galaxies, with observations of galaxies from the largest survey of the sky carried out to date, an international team of astrophysicists including Oxford's Phil Marshall set out to answer these questions.
Andy Eyre's DPhil thesis "On the Dynamics of Tidal Streams in the Milky Way Galaxy" was the runner up in the competition for the 2010 Michael Penston Prize for the best astronomy thesis submitted to a UK university during 2010. Andy was a member of the Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics and rebuilt the Centre's computer system in parallel with completing his thesis.
A gamma-ray burst detected by NASAʼs Swift satellite may be the most distant object known in the Universe. The burst marked the explosion of a massive young star at a time when the Universe was only about half a billion years old (compared to its present age of 13.7 billion years). The discovery paper was led by Antonino Cucchiara (formerly Penn State, now at UC Berkeley) and is presented in the Astrophysical Journal by an international team of astronomers, including Oxford astronomers Philipp Podsiadlowski and Christian Wolf.
The 2nd Fast Imaging Sensors Workshop was held at the Jesus College Conference Centre on 5 May 2011, organised by Andrei Nomerotski (Oxford Physics), Mark Brouard and Claire Vallance (Oxford Chemistry), and Renato Turchetta (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, RAL). The aim of the workshop was to review progress in the field of fast two-dimensional detectors, as well as to discuss their current and potential future applications.
Oxford Photovoltaics, a company recently spun out from the University of Oxford by Isis Innovation Ltd., has developed new solar cell technology that is manufactured from cheap, abundant, non-toxic and non-corrosive materials and can be scaled to any volume.
Oxford researchers Peter Babkevich, D. Prabhakaran and Andrew Boothroyd, together with Paul Freeman from Berlin, have uncovered new evidence that dynamic stripe fluctuations play an important role in the copper oxide high temperature superconductors. Their results, which appeared in Nature magazine on 17 March, will assist the search for a mechanism of high temperature superconductivity.