Physics and Astronomy Research

Mt John Observatory in snow

Physics and Astronomy are dynamic fields within science and researchers in the two disciplines have paved the way for much of the modern, high technology society we enjoy. Our teaching and research areas are diverse and we boast many international links, offering research students an extensive network and career opportunities. Explore our research areas below to learn more.

Currently astronomy is undergoing huge expansion as we can now view the Universe at all wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. Satellites can get above the atmosphere to detect gamma rays and on the ground huge telescope arrays many kilometres across make exciting discoveries with radio waves. Electronic detectors, known as CCDs have replaced photography for optical observations in astronomy, and this data has led to new advances in our knowledge of the Universe.

The condensed matter group is interested in the properties of materials from millimetre size right down to the scale where quantum behaviour of the atoms becomes important. At these small dimensions, on the scale of nanometres, materials take on new physical properties and thus present the opportunity for new science and applications. This is the field of Nanotechnology.

The main focus of this group is to examine how the climate has changed in response to man-made changes associated with ozone depletion and greenhouse gases. This is done by gathering new fundamental knowledge on processes in the atmosphere. To achieve this goal requires a combination of observations, from satellites, ground based instruments at field sites in New Zealand and Antarctica and climate modelling.

CMS - CERN's Compact Muon Solenoid detector - a general-purpose particle physics detector built at one of the four interaction points of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) proton collider. The universities of Canterbury and Auckland have been members of the CERN CMS collaboration since December 2003 when a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the New Zealand government and CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research).

Find out more about our research

at UC Spark