About Us

Mass map of galaxy cluster MCS J0416.1–2403 using strong and w
Mass map of galaxy cluster MCS J0416.1–2403 using strong and weak lensing. Credit: ESA/Hubble, NASA, HST Frontier Fields Acknowledgement: Mathilde Jauzac (Durham University, UK and Astrophysics & Cosmology Research Unit, South Africa) and Jean-Paul Kneib (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland)

The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU) is a key driver of astronomy and cosmology research in South Africa with an international reputation. ACRU’s goals include contributing to the knowledge economy of South Africa by producing high-impact research in astrophysics and cosmology, and building local skills and capacity by training high calibre PhD graduates.

ACRU achieves these goals through a strong research and teaching programme centred on academic staff, postdoctoral researchers, postgraduate students, affiliated researchers and visitors. ACRU staff are leading researchers in cosmology and relativistic astrophysics. They participate in a number of high-profile international astronomy projects across the multi-wavelength spectrum, from radio to microwave, infrared, optical and X-rays, using cutting-edge ground and space-based telescopes.

ACRU’s other key goal is to create a greater awareness of astronomy in South Africa. It achieves this through public talks, school visits, holding career weeks, participation in science exhibitions and the use of social media.

ACRU researchers actively use the SALT, C-BASS, PAPER and KAT-7 telescopes that are based in South Africa, and a host of international facilities including the XMM satellite and the Hubble Space Telescope. Through involvement in international cosmic microwave background experiments such as ACT, SPT, Spider and Planck, ground-breaking research results research findings have been published that make international headlines and produced a number of scientific awards.

ACRU produces high calibre graduates who are extremely adept at problem solving and project management, highly analytical, able to effectively use logic and reason, exhibit strong decision making skills while still possessing a high degree of creativity. These graduates excel not only in astrophysics but also in various branches of science (mathematics, computer science, physical science, statistics) since a comprehensive knowledge of these subjects is required in astronomy.