Research at the Anton Pannekoek Institute

The ultimate goal of astronomical research is to understand the Universe and the objects within it in terms of the laws of physics. The structure of the Universe and its development over the course of time, the nature, formation, and evolution of planets, stars, galaxies, clusters and super clusters of galaxies, and the properties of the medium in which these are embedded, are all important objects for study. Cosmological questions concerning the nature and evolution of the Universe relate directly to such questions as the geometry of space-time, the nature of dark matter which constitutes over 90% of the gravitating mass in the Universe but leaves no trace in the form of electromagnetic radiation, the formation of the elements, of planetary systems, and ultimately, the origin of the Earth and of life. Furthermore, the Universe provides a unique laboratory for investigating and testing the laws of chemistry and physics under conditions far more extreme than can be reached in laboratories on Earth: astrophysicists study phenomena involving enormous scales of length and mass (the Universe as a whole), huge densities (e.g., neutron stars, black holes), extreme vacua (interstellar and intergalactic media), immense energies (explosive phenomena such as supernovae and quasars), and intense fluxes of particles and radiation (neutrinos, gamma-ray bursts).

The research of the astronomical institute of the University of Amsterdam can be broadly divided into relativistic astrophysics of compact objects ("high-energy astrophysics") on the one hand, and star- and planet formation ("low-energy astrophysics") on the other. However, there is a large amount of overlap between the two in the area of studying the nature and evolution of massive stars, so the separation is not very sharp. Overall, the Institute's research touches on most aspects of the life cycle of stars, from their birth out of clouds of dust and gas, to their final explosions when they return much of their gas back to those clouds.

People at The Institute are working in the following research areas:

Cosmic explosions

Stars, formation and evolution

Astroparticle physics

Planet formation and exoplanets

Neutron stars and black holes

The annual reports of the last few years: