A NORTH-East team of astrophysicists looking into things from how galaxies are formed to black holes and dark energy have been rated as among the best in the world.

The space scientists from Durham University, who are searching for the answers to some of the biggest questions in physics today, were ranked joint sixth in the world for the quality and influence of their research.

The Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers 2018 list also placed Durham’s astronomers and cosmologists first in the UK and second in Europe for the strength of their research.

Professor Nigel Glover, head of the physics department, said: “Our research in astronomy and cosmology is among the very best in the world and it is particularly pleasing to be recognised for the strength and value of our research by fellow researchers who have cited our work.

“We are home to some of the finest minds who are seeking to answer some of the most fundamental questions in physics today about the origins and evolution of our universe.

The Northern Echo:

The distribution of gas and galaxies in the Eagle simulation, which involves researchers from Durham Picture: The EAGLE project

“This means that our students and early career researchers benefit from the opportunity to learn from and work with some of the world’s most outstanding researchers in their field.”

Durham’s researchers are active members of a global community of astrophysicists, cosmologists and space scientists, with access to supercomputer technology and the world’s most powerful ground and space-based telescopes,

Four of Durham’s researchers were among 122 worldwide whose work was highly cited by fellow scientists, including Professor Carlos Frenk, who is the director of the renowned Institute for Computational Cosmology and one of the world’s foremost researchers behind the theory of cold dark matter, the foundation of the current view of galaxy formation and the cosmic large-scale structure and Professor David Alexander, head of astronomy and director of the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy, who is a leading authority on the growth of black holes.

Professor Adrian Jenkins, an expert on cosmological simulations and the nature of dark matter and Professor Tom Theuns, a recognised expert on cosmological simulations of the formation of galaxies, were also included on the list.