Research topics

High Energy Astrophysics

High energy astrophysics is the study of astronomical objects that release electromagnetic radiation of highly energetic wavelengths. It includes X-ray astronomy, gamma-ray astronomy, and extreme UV astronomy, as well as studies of cosmic rays.


Astronomical objects studied in this field include black holes, active galactic nuclei, quasars, galactic microquasars, supernovae, supernova remnants, and Gamma ray bursts and sources of cosmic rays. The group is studying accretion processes in AGN, formation of the jets, objects spectra and the properties and origin of cosmic rays. Astronomers form the Copernicus Center are involved in major high energy astronomical instrumental projects such as: H.E.S.S., CTAIntegral and ATHENA.


At the Copernicus Center on this subject work: Marek Abramowicz, Bożena Czerny, Jarosław Dyks, Jean-Pierre Lasota, Włodzimierz Kluźniak, Barbara de Marco, Alex Markowitz, Joanna Mikołajewska, Rafał Moderski, Krzysztof NalewajkoAgata Różańska, Bronisław Rudak, Marek SikoraAndrzej Zdziarski, Janusz ZiółkowskiBei You, and Piotr Życki as well as PhD students: Bartosz Bełdycki, Marta Dziełak, Dominik GronkiewiczMaitrayee Gupta, Eleonora Veronica Lai, Bhupendra Prakash Mishra, Katarzyna RusinekJustyna Średzińska, Varadarajan Parthasarathy.

Stanisław Tatur is working on particle physics.

Nuclear astrophysics and dense matter physics

Nuclear astrophysics is an interdisciplinary field  connecting astronomy, astrophysics and nuclear physics. In particular it is interested in compact objects such as neutron stars and quark stars. Under investigation are: equations of state, phase transitions, formation of compact objects. Theoretical investigations are put in context of the observational results.


Such investigations are carried out at the Copernicus Center by: Michał Bejger, Morgane FortinPaweł Haensel, Brynmor HaskellWłodzimierz Kluźniak Jonas P. Pereira, Leszek Zdunik and Ph.D. student Filip Morawski.

Cosmology and gravitation

Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that govern it.  Modern cosmology is dominated by the Big Bang theory, which brings together observational astronomy and particle physics. Topics interesting to cosmologist include: primordial nucleosynthesis, microwave, X-ray and UV backgrounds, the formation of galaxies and evolution  of the large-scale structure of matter distribution. Inhomogenous models of the Universe (and corresponding solutions of Einstein’s equations) are also investigated.


Astronomers at the Copernicus Center  interested in cosmology and general relativity: Marek Abramowicz, Stanisław Bajtlik, Michał Chodorowski, Włodzimierz Kluźniak, Andrzej Krasiński, Andrzej Sołtan.


Gravitational waves

Gravitational waves astrophysics is a new and promising field of research of the Universe. In contrast to the observations of the electromagnetic waves (radio waves, visible light, X-rays and gamma), which are the main source of our current knowledge, we ''listen'' to the Universe by registering minor disturbances of the space-time curvature using the LIGO and Virgo laser interferometric detectors. Gravitational waves are emitted during the largest cosmic cataclysms: mergers of binary systems of neutron stars or black holes, explosions of supernovae, and by other sources, e.g., unstable or deformed rotating neutron stars. The direct detection of gravitational waves allows the study of objects that are dark (do not shine in electromagnetic waves), testing the theory of gravity in the dynamic regime of strong gravitational field, and the direct study of the interior of neutron stars which contain the densest and most extreme matter existing currently in the Universe. These informations cannot be currently obtained using other methods.


At CAMK the gravitational waves are studied by Michał Bejger, Paweł Ciecieląg, Brynmor Haskel, Filip Morawski, Jonas P. Pereira, Magdalena Sieniawska and Ankan Sur.

Stellar astrophysics

The study of stars and stellar evolution is fundamental to our understanding of the Universe. The astrophysics of stars is being determined through observation, theoretical understanding and computer simulations of the interior. The field of interests of stellar astronomers involves physical properties of stars, their formation and evolution as well as their impact on the environment (interstellar medium). A very important research subject at the Copernicus Center is the binary stars especially close binary systems (cataclysmic stars, accretion disks, common envelope binaries), symbiotic stars, planetary nebulae and protonebulae, novae (also red) and X-ray binaries. A related subject under investigation is the planets formation and observational search for them. Stellar astronomers from the Copernicus Center are involved in major instrumental projects: Solaris, SALT, BRITE-PL and Herschel.


Theoretical and observational investigation in the field of stellar astronomy are carried b: Wojciech DziembowskiCezary GalanMaciej KonackiBeata MazurJoanna MikołajewskaArkadiusz OlechWojciech PychMichał RóżyczkaMarek SarnaMirosław SchmidtAleksander Schwarzenberg-CzernyJózef I. SmakRodolfo Smiljanic,  Radosław SmolecRyszard SzczerbaRomuald Tylenda oraz doktoranci: Katarzyna DrozdKrystian Iłkiewicz.

Stellar seismology

 Stellar seismology studies the internal structure of pulsating stars by the interpretation of their frequency spectra. Different oscillation modes penetrate to different depths inside the star. This provides the tool to find the internal structure of stars. The pulsation frequencies give the information about the density profile of the region where the waves originate and travel. We search for and investigate the pulsations in the data collected by space missions, BRITE, Kepler and TESS and in the data collected by ground-based surveys, like OGLE.


At the Copernicus Center astronomers involved in stellar seismology program are: Wojciech Dziembowski, Gerald Handler, Paweł Moskalik, Alexey Pamyatnykh and Radosław Smolec, and PhD students: Sowgata Chowdhury, Henryka Netzel, Rajeev Singh Rathour, Sumanta Kumar Sahoo, Sachu Sanjayan and Oliwia Ziółkowska.

Dynamics of stellar systems

The dynamics of stellar systems includes the study of the properties and evolution of objects such as star clusters, galaxies, and galaxy clusters. This field also includes the study of the stability of such systems, the formation of structures in them (e.g. nuclei or bars), interactions between members of a group of galaxies, and determining the distribution of dark matter.


The study of the evolution of gravitationally dense star clusters is one of the most interesting topics in both observational and theoretical astronomy. Star clusters are one of the most important laboratories for studying star formation, the formation and physical nature of "exotic" objects (such as: cataclysmic variables, various types of X-ray and compact binaries, black holes, medium-mass black holes, black hole subsystems, collisions between black holes and neutron stars and many others), testing theories of stellar evolution and the physical processes leading to the formation of multiple populations of stars. This, in turn, allows us to understand the processes governing the formation of structures in the Universe. Star clusters can be used to 'weigh' the Galaxy, to better determine the theoretical constraints on the structure of the galactic halo, made of dark matter, and the physical processes that lead to the formation of galaxies. The study of young star clusters makes it possible to introduce more stringent constraints on theories of star formation and star clusters, and to more accurately determine the effects of primary mass segregation and the rejection of residual gas left over from star formation on the initial structure of the cluster and the formation processes of multiple star populations.


The research is carried out both by theoretical analysis and by numerical simulations and comparing the results with the observations.


The dynamics of stellar systems understood in this way is studied at CAMK by: Ivana Ebrova, Mirosław Giersz, Arkadiusz Hypki, Ewa L. Łokas, Klaudia Kowalczyk; and Ph.D. students Lucas Hellström and  Agostino Leveque.


Cosmic Distance Scale

Precision distances are crucial for basically all fields of modern astrophysics. In particular they areextremely important for determination of the Hubble constant and therefore to study the nature ofenigmatic dark energy and testing the cosmological models.


The group in CAMK (The Araucaria project) uses several different distance indicators (Cepheids, eclipsing binaries, red clump, RR Lyrae stars, Tip of the Red Giant Branch, blue supergiants) tomeasure accurate distances to nearby galaxies in order to precisely calibrate the whole extragalactic distance scale and as the result significantly improve the Hubble constant determination. This group is also engaged in instrumental projects; they created Polish National Observatory in Chile (Observatory Cerro Armazones).


The cosmic distance scale group at the Copernicus Center contains: Grzegorz Pietrzyński, Dariusz Graczyk, Bogumił Pilecki, Marek Górski, Paulina Karczmarek, Ksenia Suchomska, Weronika Narloch, Piotr Wielgórski, Bartłomiej Zgirski, Gergely Hajdu, Radosław Smolec, Wojtek Pych, Gonzalo Rojas Gacia, Cezary Gałan