I am a Lecturer in Astrophysics and a Royal Society University Research Fellow at UCL in London, currently working on dark energy and gravitational lensing. I graduated from Imperial College London (@imperialcollege) and then did a PhD at the University of Edinburgh (@EdinburghUni) on the topic of weak gravitational lensing. After that I was a postdoc at Oxford University (@OxfordAstro) before returning to Edinburgh for further postdoctoral work. I was then awarded a Royal Astronomical Society (@RoyalAstroSoc) postdoctoral Fellowship, and then a Royal Society (@royalsociety) University Research Fellowship. I moved to University College London (@ucl) in 2012 to start my lectureship in Astrophysics at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (@MSSLSpaceLab).
My research is focused on trying to figure out what dark energy is, using a method called “gravitational lensing”. Gravitational lensing is the effect where light from distance galaxies is curved by the warping of spacetime caused by dark matter. Even though we don’t know what dark matter is, we do know that it lenses galaxy light, like a magnifying glass lenses light on Earth. We can use gravitational lensing to measure the distances to galaxies and also how dark matter has clustered together over time – both are measurements that dark energy strongly influences, hence by measuring gravitational lensing we can learn about dark energy.
My main activities at the current time focus on preparing for a new space mission called Euclid (@EC_Euclid) Euclid is the next cosmology space mission, due for launch in 2020. It will survey three quarters of the extragalactic sky over three quarters the age of the Universe. I am one of the Science Leads in this mission, and help to coordinate the weak lensing activities.
I am also involved in several public outreach activities. For example I contribute and edit two blogs https://msslastro.wordpress.com and https://lateuniverse.wordpress.com . In 2015 I contributed to a MSSL poetry collaboration, and was a co-author of the anthology of scientific poems that was published (Laboratorio, Sidekick books 2015 ), who’s launch party will be this week!
You can find me rest of the year on Twitter @tom_kitching