Honours project: Galaxies are found in a wide range of environments, from hamlets where they are a very long way from their neighbours to cities where they live with thousands of other galaxies. Unfortunately it isn't yet known how best to measure that environment.
Recently we have built the world's most sensitive astronomical polarimeter capable of measuring the polarization of starlight to a few parts per million at blue wavelengths. This project will involve testing and evaluating a similar device that operates at red wavelengths.
Recently we have discovered that most stars of spectral type B (hot stars with temperatures over about 10,000 K) emit slightly polarized light unlike most cooler stars that are unpolarized. In this project we will seek to understand what is causing that polarization.
The Lyman alpha forest provides a unique probe into the physical conditions of the early universe. By combining the largest survey to date with other new cosmological datasets, stringent new constraints can be placed on cosmological models.