Astronomy is the oldest of the natural sciences, one that resonates with enduring human questions about nature and our place in the universe. How did the Universe evolve from an early, almost uniform, state to the rich structure that we see at the present epoch? Where did the elements of the periodic table come from? How do stars, along with their systems of planets, form and how do they change with time? Do other life-bearing worlds exist?
These questions persist and are pursued by applying novel methods in the laboratory of space in search of answers. Modern astronomy has driven the development of mathematical and computational tools that have uncovered significant puzzles, such as dark matter and dark energy. Using telescopes as time machines, astronomers can witness the processes occurring 13.7 billion years ago that produced the oldest light detectable. The methods of multi-messenger astronomy have provided observational evidence confirming the existence of gravitational waves. And with the discovery of thousands of planets around other stars, we are now challenged to find an Earth-like planet in the habitable zone surrounding a Sun-like star.
Students at all levels of their academic career can explore the universe in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Our undergraduate and PhD programs prepare students to participate in the excitement of research and discovery in fields where UChicago has intellectual leadership – the exploration of dark energy, the structure and dynamics of the universe, and extrasolar planetary systems, among others. Faculty interests spans a wide range of research areas and methodologies, with a close integration between theory and experiment. Research collaborations are enhanced by our connections to the Department of Physics and Department of the Geophysical Sciences, strong associations with Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab, and access to facilities such as the 6.5-meter Magellan Telescopes and the South Pole Telescope. Students emerge from our programs with a deep understanding of astrophysics and the skills to adapt to and excel in a changing research environment, ready to become the next generation of scientists, discoverers, inquisitive citizens, science advocates, and marvellers of the night sky.