Welcome to the Institute for Astronomy

Astronomy uses observations of the Universe to refine and develop our understanding of fundamental physics, and uses physics to understand the Universe and our place within it. We seek to understand the wonders of our Universe, to share them with the public, and to train the next generation of astronomers to carry on this mission.

Our work focuses on observations of distant and nearby galaxies; the formation and evolution of structures in the Universe; understanding the nature of dark energy and dark matter; and the formation of stars and planets. This wide array of exciting research topics is the basis for our vibrant and dynamic institute.

Latest News


How the brightest lights in the universe ‘flicker’

Hanny's Voorwerp

Active galactic nuclei are the brightest objects in the universe. They are not lit up permanently, but rather ‘flicker’ extremely slowly. This insight helps ETH researchers (lead by Prof. Kevin Schawinski) better understand the influence these nuclei and black holes have on their host galaxy. Read more 


IFA supported the “Studienwoche" for high-school students


More than 30 high-schools students from Switzerland and Germany had a chance to spend a full week at ETH Zurich to get a glimpse at what it means to be a student at ETH and how research is carried out in practice.  D-PHYS was in charge of the organisation of this event and - among other institutes from various departments - also the Institute for Astronomy participated and hosted 8 students. Read more 


Star and Planet Formation Research Group hosts international JWST Project Meeting


Members of the US-based NIRCam Science Team (PI: Marcia Rieke, University of Arizona), as well as several international guests, met at ETH Zürich 8-10 June to discuss plans for star and planet formation research with the James Webb Space Telescope to be launched by NASA/ESA/CSA in 2018. Read more 


Giant galaxies die inside-out

NGC 4472 is a so-called «red and dead» elliptical galaxy in today’s universe. (Photo: WikiSky/SDSS)

Observations with NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and ESO’s Very Large Telescope have revealed that star formation shuts first down in the centres of big elliptical galaxies. Read more 


Mapping the cosmos: Dark Energy Survey creates detailed guide to spotting dark matter

Dark Matter Map

On 14. April 2015 Scientists on the Dark Energy Survey have released the first in a series of dark matter maps of the cosmos. These maps, created with one of the world’s most powerful digital cameras, are the largest contiguous maps created at this level of detail and will improve our understanding of dark matter’s role in the formation of galaxies.  Read more 

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