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Star Formation
Young stars
The Galactic Center
Molecular Clouds
The Eagle Nebula
Lynds 1551
The Lagoon Nebula
Bright Rim Nebulae
AKARI IR mission
Rutherford Laboratory


The research interests of The Open University include, star formation, Exoplanets, astrochemistry, mm and submm detector development, Solar System and primitive body studies and the cosmic history of galaxy formation

Open University

Glenn J White - Professor of Astronomy

Glenn White Astronomer Open University

Astrophysics Group, Department of Physics & Astronomy, The Open University


RAL Space, The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Didcot, Oxfordshire

Research Areas:- Star formation, Millimetre, submillimetre and far-infrared astronomy, Variable stars, Exoplanets, Detector technology, Superconducting detectors, Millimetre wave technology

Tel:- 01908-652735 - Mobile: 0771 423 4897

e-mail:- g.j.white @ (remove spaces)

I hold a joint appointment as Professor of Astronomy at The Open University, and as Research Group Leader in the Space Science and Technology Department at The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire. Prior to that I worked at the University of Leicester (postdoc); Queen Mary College, University of London (Professor), University of Kent (Professor and Head of Group), and have also spent sabbaticals working at the University of Tokyo, Stockholm Observatory and Cambridge University.

My astronomical research interests include:

  • Transit searches for Exoplanets
  • Stellar Variabillity and asterioseismology
  • Submm molecular line and continuum studies of star-formation regions
  • Optical transit searches for Exoplanets using space telescopes
  • Galactic far-infrared astronomy
  • Low frequency radio observations of the Galaxy
  • Debris Disks and Planet formation
  • The Galactic Centre
  • The physics of molecular outflow sources
  • Interstellar Chemistry and spectral line surveys
  • Spectral line survey mapping to determine the variations of relative molecular abundances and their relation to protostellar activity
  • Studies of shocked regions; small scale and fragmentary structure in dense star forming cloud cores
  • The Cosmic Histroy of star formation
  • Photodissociation regions and ionisation fronts
  • Triggered star formation
  • The molecular composition of galaxies
  • The Cosmic History of Star Formation
  • Deep Extragalactic Surveys at radio and far-infrared wavelengths

 My instrumentation programme has centred around development of:

  • Space Missions, including HERSCHEL, DARWIN, SPICA, AKARI, STEREO
  • Cryogenic heterodyne detectors for millimeter, sub-millimeter and far-infrared astronomical instrumentation.
  • Hot-electron superconducting microbolometers as radiation detectors
  • The properties of intra-cellular water in biological systems
  • High spectral resolution observations of exoplanets

I also use radiative transfer and modelling techniques to perform numerical simulations of the physics of collapsing gas clouds which are about to form stars. These models will be used as the basis of interpreting current observational data, and for future planning for several upcoming space missions. Specific objectives we are currently working on include :

  • The development of a cloud collapse code with full gas dynamics, able to model the collapse of dense molecular cloud cores, and the associated star formation
  • Observational and modelling studies of the ionised gas at the edges of photoionsed nebulae, to understand the role and physics of shocks which can induce star formation
  • Modelling of the dynamics and chemistry of the region within 10 light years of the Centre of our Galaxy, as a template for the structure of the nuclei of normal galaxies

I work in a UK consortium (Open University, Imperial College, Sussex, SRON, Groningen) with collaborators at the Japanese Institute for Astronautics and Space Science (JAXA) developing software pipelines for the all-sky far-infrared surveyor instrument on the AKARI mission, and am also involved in the ESA HERSCHEL mission on the SPIRE (a far-IR camera) instrument, having worked on this mission since 1982 when I was a co-author of the Phase A Study when the mission was then called FIRST. I have also worked on scientific planning for the Atacama Large Millimetre Array telescope in Chile (ALMA), and am a co-I on the ESAL PLANCK HFI detector. I was a member of the Science Team for the ESA DARWIN mission, and the ESA GENIE Ground based nulling interferometer project, and was involved in developing the case for the European Spectrometer Instrument (ESI) for the 4m Japanese SPICA infrared mission, and ESA's next Generation Far-Infrared Space Mission (FIRM) in the 2020 - 2025 timeframe. I also lead a programme to search for exoplanet transits using NASA's two STEREO satellites, and am working on the Galactic Science programmeand early science operations for the LOFAR radio telescope.

Recent papers and preprints (click on the link to see the papers)