The Astronomy and Astrophysics group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy is among the best in the country and very highly regarded internationally. It has an distinguished and energetic team of faculty members: Arif Babul, Tony Burke, Sara Ellison, Ann Gower, David Hartwick, Henk Hoekstra, Julio Navarro, Chris Pritchet, Colin Scarfe, Don VandenBerg and Jon Willis. Two of these have been Steacie Memorial Fellows, one a Killam Fellow, one an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, three Reinhardt Fellows, and one a CIAR Scholar. One is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

According to the Philadelphia-based Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), the relative impact of Canadian Astrophysics, expressed as a percentage of papers, is 38% over the world average. This is the highest amongst the 22 science and social science fields included in this ranking. In this setting on the forefront of astrophysics, ISI has also ranked the UVic Astronomy & Astrophysics group Number One in Canada on the basis of citation impact of papers published between 1990 and 1994 .

The high impact performance of the UVic group has recently been confirmed by another, more-indepth, independent analysis of research papers published world-wide over the period 1981 and 1997. (see astro-ph/0005277). In this report, Don Vandenberg appears in the Honour Roll with over 3000 citations received for his 48 papers in this period. In addition, the list of Top 10 (High Impact) papers for each year from 1981 to 1997 includes the following faculty members and the year in which they received the honour: Don Vandenberg (1986), Peter Stetson (1988), Arif Babul (1996) and Julio Navarro (1996). Overall, UVIC leads all other Canadian universities in the number of faculty members appearing on the High Impact lists.

The group presently supports an average of ten graduate students and five postdoctoral fellows/research associates. In addition, the group is complemented by a senior scientific assistant/astronomer, R. Robb, and several adjunct members including David Crampton, Jim Hesser, John Hutchings, Werner Israel, Doug Johnstone, Peter Stetson, Jeremy Tatum and Sidney van den Bergh, some of whom are members of the nearby Herzberg Institute for Astrophysics.

The presence in Victoria of both the Astronomy Group at UVic and the HIA gives Victoria the largest per capita concentration of astronomers in Canada, and the vibrancy of this community offers undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral and visiting researchers with a diversity of research opportunities, ranging from theoretical, observational and computational cosmology to adaptive optics, from stellar structure to active galactic nuclei, from the optical to the submillimeter, from supernovae to astronomical instrumentation, unparalleled elsewhere in Canada.

Meet the Astro Gang

The primary research interests of the group members are: the study (both observational and theoretical) of old stellar populations in Milky Way globular clusters and in the halos of other galaxies, theoretical and observational cosmology, gravitational lensing, formation and evolution of structure in the Universe, the chemical and dynamical evolution of galaxies, extragalactic radio astronomy, relativity and relativistic astrophysics, stellar evolution, binary and variable stars, the search for extra-solar planets, studies of comets and asteroids, laboratory astrophysics, and astronomical instrumentation and software.

Learn More About the Faculty and Postdoctoral Research

Major astronomical resources available to the faculty and students include access to the 3.6-meter Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, the sub-millimeter James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and the 8-meter Gemini-North on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The second 8-meter Gemini-South in Cerro Pachon, Chile was dedicated in January 2002 and is now available. The faculty, staff and students have also been very successful at securing observing time at on other major observatories including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Very Large Array in New Mexico, Kitt Peak in Arizon, the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory in the Chilean Andes, etc. Finally, the optical telescopes of the nearby Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and the radio telescopes at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, B.C., are also available for use.

More Information About Canadian Astronomical Resources

The members of the astronomy group also have access to enviable computational resources. The astronomy and the particle physics group jointly maintain a Beowulf cluster consisting of 40 off the shelf PCs connected together to function as a powerful parallel computing platform. And the University hosts an IBM RS/6000 SP supercomputer with 128 processors, which ranks among the faster supercomputers in Canada and among the top 500 supercomputers in the world. In fact, based on the June 2000 listing (compiled by the universities of Tennessee and Mannheim, Germany) of the fastest supercomputers in the world, the supercomputer places within the elite group top 100. These computational resources are a boon to the faculty and students with research interests in the area of computational cosmology.

Recently, Arif Babul and Julio Navarro, in collaboration with Hugh Couchman from McMaster University, have been awarded a major NSERC grant to establish the Canadian Computational Cosmology Collaboration (C4), an international venture that brings together the University of Victoria, McMaster University, the University of Washington, the University of Durham (UK), and the Max-Planck Institute for Astrophysics (Germany). The main mandate of C4 is to use numerical simulations to develop a sound theoretical understanding of galaxy formation.

More Information About the Canadian Computational Cosmology Collaboration

Finally, the members of the astronomy group are collaborating with faculty from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and astronomers at the nearby Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics to establish an Astrophysical Instrument Design Laboratory on the UVic campus. The laboratory will focus on developing innovative technologies and instruments for future missions such as the Next Generation Space Telescope and the Square Kilometer Array. To complement the establishment of the laboratory, the astronomy group, in collaboration with the HIA's Instrument Development Group, will begin offering (effective September 2001) a Master's program in Astronomical Instrumentation.

More Information About the Master's Program and the New Instrument Lab

The astronomy group maintains very strong working relationship with the astronomers at the nearby Herzberg Institute for Astrophysics (HIA), which includes among its divisions the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO), to the benefit of both institutions. Members of HIA often participate in the supervision of graduate students and occasionally, in the teaching of graduate courses. The presence in Victoria of both the Astronomy Group at UVic and the HIA gives this city one of the largest concentrations of astronomers in Canada.

More Information About the Herzberg Institute

Finally, since 1998, the Department of Physics and Astronomy has been hosting the editorial offices of the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, with Anne Cowley and David Hartwick as co-editors.

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