Prof Peter Coles

Theoretical Physics

Science Building, North Campus
Ground floor
1.12
(01 708) 3678

Biography

I am a theoretical astrophysicist and my research is in the area of cosmology and the large-scale structure of the Universe.  For further details about my research, click the `Research' tab.

I was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in England and educated at its Royal Grammar School. After that I went to Magdalene College at the University of Cambridge to study Natural Sciences, eventually specializing in Theoretical Physics. After graduation I started a doctorate in the Astronomy Centre at the University of Sussex under the supervision of Prof. John D  Barrow. After completing my DPhil in 1988, I stayed for two years in Sussex as a postdoctoral research fellow. I then moved  to London, where I held a number of positions in the School of Mathematical Sciences at what is now Queen Mary, University of London. I was awarded an SERC Advanced Fellowship in 1993 which I held for five years during which I was promoted to the position of Reader.

In 1998 I was appointed Professor of Astrophysics in the School of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Nottingham, a position I took up on 1st January 1999. I helped set up an Astronomy group there, and stayed about eight years in Nottingham until, in 2007, I moved to a position as Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University. From February 2013 until the end of July 2016 I was Head of the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex  In 2016 I returned to Cardiff in a part-time capacity split between the School of Physics & Astronomy  and the Data Innovation Research Institute. In 2017 decided to move to Ireland to take up my current position at Maynooth.

Research Interests

My primary research interest is in cosmology and the large-scale structure of the Universe,[specifically on theoretical models that try to account for the properties of the observable universe, including the cosmic microwave background and galaxy clusters. I also research cosmological models that feature magnetic fields, Non-Gaussianity and asymmetries, as well as models based on theories of gravity other than Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

I also have general interests in the application of probability and statistics in astronomy and physics.

More specifically my current work lies in the following areas.

1. Cosmic Anomalies. The current standard cosmological model fits most currently available cosmological observations, but some of this data suggests features that may need revisions or additions to the standard model in order to explain. Among the questions being addressed by this research are: is there evidence of departures from the standard model in the Planck observations of the cosmic microwave background; and is the apparent tension between different determinations of cosmological parameters (e.g. the Hubble constant) from different data sets.

2. Wave Mechanics and Large-scale Structure. This work investigates the application of an idea originally suggested by Widrow & Kaiser that involves representing the large-scale distribution of matter using a wave-mechanics, specifically using the Schrödinger-Poisson description. This approach has numerous technical advantages over the standard methods but is far less widely studied. We will be applying it to problems involving dark matter in the form of ultra-light particles as well as the problem of redshift-space distortions and velocity-density reconstruction.

3. Euclid. The European Space Agency's Euclid mission , scheduled for launch in mid-2022, is
intended  to better understand dark energy and dark matter by accurately measuring the acceleration of the universe using a number of complementary approaches. I am a member of the Euclid Consortium in which I participate in the Science Working Group on Galaxy Clustering, which is currently preparing for this launch. The analysis of data from Euclid will take many years after the survey is itself completed so this will become my main focus in the medium to long term.








Books

  Year Publication
2010 From Cosmos to Chaos: The Science of Unpredictability.
Coles, P (2010) From Cosmos to Chaos: The Science of Unpredictability. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Details]
2002 Cosmology: The Origin and Evolution of Cosmic Structure.
Coles, P; Lucchin, F (2002) Cosmology: The Origin and Evolution of Cosmic Structure. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons. [Details]
2001 Cosmology: A Very Short Introduction.
Coles, P (2001) Cosmology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Details]

Peer Reviewed Journals

  Year Publication
2019 'A revolution in science: the eclipse expeditions of 1919'
Peter Coles (2019) 'A revolution in science: the eclipse expeditions of 1919'. Contemporary Physics, 60 (1):45-59 [DOI] [Details]
2017 'The integrated bispectrum and beyond'
Munshi, D.; Coles, P. (2017) 'The integrated bispectrum and beyond'. Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, 2017 (2) [DOI] [full-text] [Details]
2016 'Dynamical Analysis of Scalar Field Cosmologies with Spatial Curvature'
Gosenca, M; Coles, P (2016) 'Dynamical Analysis of Scalar Field Cosmologies with Spatial Curvature'. The Open Journal of Astrophysics, 1 (1) [DOI] [full-text] [Details]
2016 'Extracting the late-time kinetic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect'
Munshi, D.; Iliev, I. T.; Dixon, K. L.; Coles, P. (2016) 'Extracting the late-time kinetic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect'. Monthly Notices Of The Royal Astronomical Society, 463 (3):2425-2442 [DOI] [full-text] [Details]
2016 'Lensing-induced morphology changes in CMB temperature maps in modified gravity theories'
Munshi, D.; Hu, B.; Matsubara, T.; Coles, P.; Heavens, A.F. (2016) 'Lensing-induced morphology changes in CMB temperature maps in modified gravity theories'. Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, (4) [DOI] [full-text] [Details]
2016 'Galaxy clustering in 3D and modified gravity theories'
Munshi, D.; Pratten, G.; Valageas, P.; Coles, P.; Brax, P. (2016) 'Galaxy clustering in 3D and modified gravity theories'. Monthly Notices Of The Royal Astronomical Society, 456 (2):1627-1644 [DOI] [full-text] [Details]
2015 'Testing modified gravity with cosmic shear'
Harnois-Déraps, J.; Munshi, D.; Valageas, P.; van Waerbeke, L.; Brax, P.; Coles, P.; Rizzo, L. (2015) 'Testing modified gravity with cosmic shear'. Monthly Notices Of The Royal Astronomical Society, 454 (3):2722-2735 [DOI] [full-text] [Details]
2014 'Tomography and weak lensing statistics'
Munshi, D.; Coles, P.; Kilbinger, M. (2014) 'Tomography and weak lensing statistics'. Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, 2014 (4) [DOI] [full-text] [Details]
2014 'Reionization and CMB non-Gaussianity'
Munshi, D.; Corasaniti, P. S.; Coles, P.; Heavens, A.F. Pandolfi, S. (2014) 'Reionization and CMB non-Gaussianity'. Monthly Notices Of The Royal Astronomical Society, 442 (4):3427-3442 [DOI] [full-text] [Details]
2014 'Probing modified gravity theories with ISW and CMB lensing'
Munshi, D.; Hu, B.; Renzi, A.; Heavens, A.F.; Coles, P. (2014) 'Probing modified gravity theories with ISW and CMB lensing'. Monthly Notices Of The Royal Astronomical Society, 442 (1):821-837 [DOI] [full-text] [Details]
2014 'Cross-correlating Sunyaev-Zel'dovich and weak lensing maps'
Munshi, D; Joudaki, S; Coles, P; Smidt, J; Kay, S.T. (2014) 'Cross-correlating Sunyaev-Zel'dovich and weak lensing maps'. Monthly Notices Of The Royal Astronomical Society, 442 (1):69-91 [DOI] [full-text] [Details]

Other Journals

  Year Publication
2019 'Einstein, Eddington and the 1919 eclipse'
Peter Coles (2019) 'Einstein, Eddington and the 1919 eclipse' Nature, 568 :306-307. [DOI] [Details]
2017 'Building baby universes'
Coles, P. (2017) 'Building baby universes' Physics World, 30 (8) :34-35. [DOI] [Details]
2014 'Planck Perspectives'
Coles, P. (2014) 'Planck Perspectives' Physics World, 27 (1) :24-30. [DOI] [Details]

Book Review

  Year Publication
2019 Data Analysis for Scientists and Engineers by Edward L. Robinson.
Peter Coles (2019) Data Analysis for Scientists and Engineers by Edward L. Robinson. Singapore: Book Review [DOI] [Details]

Electronic Publication

  Year Publication
2019 How Albert Einstein became a household name 100 years ago.
Peter Coles (2019) How Albert Einstein became a household name 100 years ago. Electronic Publication [Details]