The big bang, stars and black holes: astrophysics and cosmology through time.

This is a Physics and astronomy Subject Spotlight with Professor Daniel Thomas and Dr Laura Nuttall from the University of Portsmouth. An interactive, cinematic course taster experience to allow students to gain insights into what it's like to study Physics and astronomy.

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In this fascinating Subject Spotlight, Professor Daniel Thomas and Dr Laura Nuttall present: The Big Bang, Stars & Black Holes: Astrophysics and Cosmology through time. In this Spotlight, Daniel begins by exploring vital components of the birth of a star, tracking the life of a star through time, and then exploring the death of a star, including explanations of white dwarfs, neutron stars & black holes. In episode 2, Laura explains the physics of a black hole, discusses the black hole at the centre of our galaxy, and gives you an introduction to gravitational waves. Daniel takes over again for episode 3, where he takes a further deep dive into galaxies, thinks about the cosmic web, and explains dark energy, including the fate of the universe. Finally, Laura takes a more in depth look at the Big Bang Theory, and then presents a fascinating activity in which you will further research Big Bang timelines and complete an identification task. She finishes by pinpointing some of the vital transferable skills you could acquire from taking this course.

About University of Portsmouth

Based in the heart of the UK's only island city, the University of Portsmouth is committed to giving every student a life-changing experience. Outstanding teaching and wide-ranging support make for a lively community where students develop skills and confidence for a rewarding career. The campus is a compact site that's interwoven with the city and is just steps away from the beautiful seafront. Portsmouth is committed to their students’ futures too, with 94% of graduates in work or further study, and they offer a broad range of degrees across subjects including business, creative and cultural industries, humanities, law, sciences, social sciences, and technology. Learners will be able to access plenty of options for professional development through placement, work experience and volunteer opportunities. In addition, a dedicated careers and employability service is on hand with expert advice so Portsmouth's students are well placed for success and are given support well beyond graduation.

Meet the academics

Professor Daniel Thomas

Professor Daniel Thomas is Professor of Astrophysics in the Faculty of Technology, and the Head of the School of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Portsmouth. Daniel did his PhD in Astrophysics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Germany, with research on the chemical evolution and stellar populations of early-type galaxies. After post-doctoral research positions at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Max-Planck-Institute for extraterrestrial physics (Garching, Germany) and Oxford University (UK), he joined the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth in 2007. Daniel’s research broadly addresses the formation and evolution of galaxies and galaxies as cosmological probes with particular interests in stellar populations and chemical evolution, galaxy populations, large-scale galaxy surveys, galaxy environment, galaxy dynamics and dark matter. He was involved and held leadership positions in a number of large-scale galaxy surveys including the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Dark Energy Survey. Daniel co-founded the Citizen-science project Galaxy Zoo. Daniel has co-authored over 300 scientific publications. He joined the 2020 Highly Cited Researchers™ list from Clarivate™ identifying researchers ranking in the top 1% by citations, demonstrating significant influence among their peers. Daniel is currently in 25th place of the national ranking of top physicists by, and among the top two per cent of the most cited scholars in the world according to a list produced by Stanford University and Elsevier.

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On-demand interactive video content

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Remarkable & relatable academics

Learn from some of the UK's finest and most decorated academics as they give you a genuine, insightful, and engaging experience of studying their courses at their universities.

Interactive quizzes and activities

Have a go at fascinating interactive quizzes and activities, then get meaningful and intuitive feedback from the academics to see how you've done.

Content to enhance students university applications

Hear direct from the academics what's expected of you in your university application, and the things you can do to improve your chances of getting on the course you most desire!

Certificate of completion

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Subject Spotlight?

Subject Spotlights fuse education and entertainment to bring you the new way of researching your university options.

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Who is this Spotlight for?

This subject spotlight is made for students aged 16 and above, that are considering applying to University, particularly to study the subject in the title, or similar areas.

How should I talk about completing a Subject Spotlight on my UCAS application?

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The easiest way to include it would be to briefly mention one or two things you learned from it and how/why those learnings have furthered your desire to study the subject. We don't want to prescribe an answer because it's your personal statement but this is a good starting point!