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Research Fields / Research Groups

Our department is conducting research on the following four major fields: "the universe", "the Earth and planets", "material", and "life". Each research group (eight groups at present) is responsible for pursuing everyday research activity as a fundamental unit. Here, we briefly explain the research areas covered by the groups of our department. Of course, the above four major fields are closely inter-related, and the research activity of each group often covers more than one field.


The universe

From the ancient times, man has always dreamt of understanding the endless universe. In our department, both the observational research on the basis of modern technology and the theoretical research on the basis of modern physics are conducted. In Theoretical Astrophysics Group (Nagamine Group), the study of the evolution of the universe beginning with the Big Bang and of numerous astrophysical phenomena including star formation, high energy plasmas, black holes and gravitational waves, is performed. In X-ray Astronomy Group (Matsumoto Group), X-ray observational study of supernova, active galactic nucleus, and black hole is performed by using satellites, together with the development of new techniques of X-ray spectroscopy and Infrared Astronomy Group (Sumi Group) s investigating the formation and evolution of extrasolar planets and circumstellar clouds/disks by infrared observations with space-borne telescopes and grond-based telescopes, together with new infrared telescopes and sensors.


The earth and planets

A better understanding of the Earth, which is the one and only planet we live, is indispensable for our future. It is also important to learn more about the other planets of our solar system. In our department, there are four experimental groups in this area. Planetary Science Group (Terada Group) studies the origin and the evolution of the solar system and Earth, mainly by using isotopic analyses. Earth and Planetary Materials Science Group(Sasaki Group studies the properties of planetary materials, such as meteorites, and the earth's interior, by means of X-ray computed tomography (CT) and X-ray diffraction using synchrotron radiation. Soft Matter Earth and Planetary Sciences Group (Katsuragi Group) experimentally investigates various phenomena from planetary surface terrain to biophysics from the multi-disciplinary point of view. High Pressure Material Physics Group (Kondo Group) studies the nature of materials in the deeper parts of planets under high temperatures and pressures.


Material

The universe consists of a wide variety of materials. In order to understand the universe and Earth, it is essential to study the properties of materials forming the universe, particularly under extreme conditions. Theoretical Condensed-Matter Physics Group (Hatano Group) theoretically studies the nature of phase transitions exhibited by various materials, and the properties of earthquakes caused by a stick-slip frictional instability, mainly using computer simulations.


Life

Understanding of the origin and the evolution of life on the Earth is one of the fundamental unsolved problems in natural sciences and essential for prospecting our future. Soft Matter Earth and Planetary Sciences Group (Katsuragi Group) experimentally investigates the nature of life’s raw materials in cosmic and terrestrial environments, their chemical evolution processes to biomolecules and their fossilization processes, with special attention to organic-inorganic interactions. The molecular evolution of photoreceptor proteins in relation to the environmental changes is also studied.


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