Researchers in the University of Sheffield's Astrophysics research group use major ground- and space-based observatories to study the formation and evolution of stars and brown dwarfs individually, in binary systems, within star clusters, and in starbursts. They study the properties of active galactic nuclei and their influence on their host galaxies, using observations from X-ray to radio wavelengths.

The group has also developed the ULTRACAM, ULTRASPEC and HiPERCAM instruments to investigate a wide-range of astrophysical phenomena – from Kuiper Belt Objects to micro-quasars – at high time resolution. Supernovae have been studied using large ground-based telescopes and the Hubble Space Telescope.

The team's observational strengths are reflected by its success in securing allocations on heavily oversubscribed ground-based telescopes at the European Southern Observatory, Gemini Observatory, Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, and Gran Telescopio Canarias, as well as space-based telescopes such as Hubble and Spitzer. Their work is further underpinned by the group's theoretical interests, including simulations of star formation and star cluster evolution.

Study opportunities

We run a number of BSc and MPhys courses in Physics and Astrophysics, including Study Abroad and Year in Industry options.

BSc and MPhys courses
in Physics and Astrophysics

We also offer a range of PhD opportunities across astrophysics.

PhD opportunities in
Physics and Astronomy

Research groups

Astrophysics researchers at the University of Sheffield are studying a range of key topics across four main research themes:


Expanding the habitable zone in binary systems


A model developed by Dr Richard Parker has shown how the habitable zone changes around binary systems. He and student Bethany Wootton discovered that an encounter with a passing third star may squeeze the binary pair together, expanding the habitable zone in the process.  

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Revolutionary HiPERCAM captures movies of space


Professor Vik Dhillon is the lead scientist behind HiPERCAM, which can take more than 1,000 images per second and will revolutionise scientists' understanding of stars and black holes. The camera is mounted on the world's largest optical telescope, the Gran Telescopio Canarias.

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Star system could create cosmic firework display

A spectacular star system known as Apep, wrapped in an elegant spiral dust cloud, has been discovered by astronomers including Professor Paul Crowther. The system is believed to contain a star that is spinning extremely fast and could produce one of the most powerful explosions in the Universe.

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You can access our latest research on our 'Publications' webpage, or by visiting our landing page on arXiv.

We also host seminars throughout the academic year on a range of topics in astronomy and astrophysics: Seminars

Research activities are supported by grants provided by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, Royal Society, Leverhulme Trust and European Research Council, who have supported our newest high time resolution instrument HiPERCAM.

Sheffield astrophysicists on Deep Sky Videos

Professors Paul Crowther and Vik Dhillon have appeared in a number of films for the astrophysics YouTube channel Deep Sky Videos. We've collected their appearances in this playlist.