School of Astronomy and Space Science 

The School of Astronomy and Space Science of Nanjing University was established in March 2011, and its predecessor, the Department of Astronomy, was founded in 1952. It earns the longest history and a high reputation of all the astronomy departments in China. The school has cultivated many astronomers who are currently active in academic circles.


Today the school has 2 undergraduate programs, respectively under 2 departments, the Department of Astronomy and the Department of Space Science & Technology. It also consists of several laboratories, such as Key Laboratory of Modern Astronomy and Astrophysics, named by the Ministry of Education, Central Laboratory for Teaching, Solar Tower Laboratory, Center for Nonlinear Sciences, and Planetary Science and Deep Space Exploration Laboratory. Furthermore, the school owns the national first-level key discipline of astronomy, including two national second-level key disciplines: Astrophysics and Astrometry & Celestial Mechanics. 

The school’s current research activities cover high-energy astrophysics, solar physics, galaxies and cosmology, extra-solar planets, aerospace dynamics, astrometry and space science.


The School has a strong faculty consisting of both distinguished senior scholars and a large number of young academic leaders. There are 44 faculty members in total, including 20 professors, with 4 academicians of the Chinese Academy of Science, 4 Cheung Kong Scholars, 1 Chief Scientist for the National 973 Basic Research Program, 7 National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars Winners, 7 China Cross-Century Talent Raising Program Winners, and 4 Youth Qianren Professors. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation of China and National Key Fundamental Research Programs, the school has obtained fruitful academic achievements and won many national/provincial awards.


In order to foster a new collaborative mode between universities and observatories, in 2010, Nanjing University, Purple Mountain Observatory and Nanjing Institute of Astronomical Optics & Technology signed an agreement aimed at jointly establishing the Center for Astronomy and Space Science on the Xianlin Campus of Nanjing University.


Moreover, after a series of discussions and consultations, Nanjing University, Peking University, National Astronomical Observatories, Purple Mountain Observatory and University of Science & Technology of China co-founded the Collaborative Innovation Center of Modern Astronomy and Space Exploration in December 2012.


The school also explores the channels of cooperation with overseas partners to push forward the process of internationalization and has established friendly and cooperative relationship with over 20 institutes of higher education in the USA, UK, Australia, Japan and so on. Its partners include Harvard University, California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kyoto University, University of California Santa Cruz, University of California Los Angeles, University of Tokyo, University of Sydney, and Paris Observatory.


In August 2014, the school moved into a new building which covers 12,000 square meters. The new building well meets the needs of research, experiments, teaching and academic activities, and will play a significant role in the school’s development in the decades to come.


In 1952, the Department of Astronomy, Nanjing University, was established, integrating the Department of Astronomy of Sun Yat-sen University and the Astronomy & Arithmetic Department of Qilu University. The director was Professor Zhao Que-min.

In 1955, the Department of Astronomy and the Department of Mathematics, Nanjing University, merged into the new Department of Mathematics & Astronomy.

In 1962, the Department of Astronomy was re-established and was headed by professor Dai Wen-sai.

From 1972 to 1976, the department enrolled 183 students. In 1977, the National College Entrance Examination was resumed, and the department began to recruit graduate students since 1978 and doctoral students since 1987.

In 1993, the Department of Astronomy was granted the title “National Training Bases of Astronomy Talents” and began to be funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

In March 2011, the School of Astronomy and Space Science was established. 

Discipline Construction

High Energy Astrophysics Group

Focus on supernovae and supernova remnants, Gamma-ray bursts and GRB cosmology, compact stars, high-energy cosmic rays and other relevant astronomical phenomena. The faculty plans to involve the most violent outbreaks in outer space, which will be quite significant for the study of evolution of stars, galaxies and the universe.

Team Members

Prof. Dai Zigao, Prof. Li Xiangdong, Prof. Huang Yongfeng, Prof. Wang Xiangyu, Prof. Chen Yang, Dr. Wang Fayin, Dr. Jiang Bing, Dr. Xu Xiaojie XU, Dr. Zhou Ping, Dr. Shao Yong

Self-organized criticality in X-ray flares of gamma-ray-burst afterglows, F.Y., Wang and Z.G., Dai, 2013, Nature Physics, 9, 465

Discovery of the transient magnetar 3XMM J185246.6+003317 near supernova remnant Kesteven 79 with XMM-Newton, P., Zhou et al. 2014, ApJL, 781, L16.


Solar Physics Group

The research addresses the origin, structure and evolution of solar activities, especially the physical mechanisms of the most energetic solar eruptions such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections. The theoretical part includes MHD and radiative hydrodynamic simulations, and the observational part covers a wide range from radio to hard X-ray.

Team Members

Prof. Fang Cheng, Prof. Ding Mingde, Prof. Chen Pengfei, Dr. Dai Yu, Dr. Li Chuan, Dr. Cheng Xin, Dr. Guo Yang, Dr. Hao Qi

SDO/AIA 131 A images showing the early eruption of magnetic flux rope.

X., Cheng et al. 2011, ApJL, 732, L25; 2012, ApJ, 745, L5; 2013, ApJ, 763, 43; ApJL, 769, L25

Galaxies and Cosmology Group

The research focuses on the galaxy-center black hole activities, starburst galaxies and active galactic nucleus, chaos in the galaxy and cluster dynamics, stellar structure and galactic-disk thickness of neighbor galaxies. The research uses observational data from large ground and space telescopes and theoretical models to establish the physical processes that is, triggering, evolution and inter-relation of neighbor galaxies stellar activities and nuclear activities.

Team Members

Prof. Gu Qiusheng, Prof. Shi Yong, Prof. Qiu Keping, Prof. Li Zhiyuan, Prof. Luo Bin, Dr. Luo Xinlian, Dr. Chen Yanmei, Dr. Wang Tao


Inefficient star formation in extremely metal poor galaxies, Shi et al. 2014, Nature, 514, 335


Celestial Mechanics and Planetary Dynamics Group

The team focuses research on the formation and evolution of exo-planetary systems and dynamics of small objects in the Solar system. It studies formation mechanism and dynamical evolution of the solar system and extrasolar planetary systems, nonlinear Hamiltonian dynamics theory and its applications in celestial mechanics, orbit and motion stability of small solar-system bodies and satellites and its application in the field of aerospace.

Team Members

Prof. Sun Yisui, Prof. Zhou Jilin, Prof. Zhou Liyong, Dr. Xie Jiwei, Dr. Li Jian, Dr. Zhang Hui, Dr. Liu Huigen 

The team confirmed 54 Kepler exoplanet candidates by TTV(right), which is about half of the No. confirmed by TTV before 2014.

J.W., Xie, 2013, ApJS, 208, 22; J.W., Xie, 2014, ApJS, 210, 25;Yang et al. 2013, ApJ, 778, 110; S.H., Wang et al. 2014, ApJS, 211, 26.

Planetary transit candidates in the CSTAR field: Analysis of the 2008 data, S.H., Wang et al. 2014, ApJS, 211, 26.

Astronomical Reference System and Astrometry Group

The research focuses on the astronomical reference system. Recently the team reconsidered the definition of the Galactic coordinate system. The team also studies relativistic astrometry and the Galactic dynamics and kinematics

Team Members

Prof. Zhu Zi, Dr. Zhang Hong, Dr. Wan Xiaosheng, Dr. Liu Jiacheng, Dr. Xie Yi

The density distribution of 2MASS point source on the celestial sphere where the Galactic belt can be clearly seen.

J.C., Liu et al. 2011, A&A, 516, A16; J.C., Liu et al. 2011, A&A, 536, A102

Space Weather

The research focuses on solar activity mechanisms, solar activity monitoring and forecasting, and causes of disastrous space weather.

Team Members

Prof. Fang Cheng, Prof. Chen Pengfei, Dr. Dai Yu, Dr. Li Chuan, Dr. Hao Qi

Extreme ultraviolet imaging of three-dimensional magnetic reconnection in a solar eruption, J.Q., Sun et al. 2015,

Nature Com., 6, 7598.

Spacecraft Orbit Design and Control

Mainly research is dynamics of solar system main-belt asteroids, small near-earth bodies and methods of artificial earth satellite, interplanetary probes, orbital mechanics, etc.

Team Member

Prof. Bo XU, Dr. Xi-Yun HOU, Dr. Jing-Shi TANG, Dr. Han-Lun LEI

Space Science Laboratories


The Optical & Near-Infrared Solar Eruption Tracer (ONSET), located at Fuxian Lake, Yunnan Province.

Construction of the Time Domain Survey Telescope (TDST)

  • TDST focuses on searching of planets around bright star (Vmag<12) near North ecliptic Pole. It will provide the light curves of these bright stars with a high precision. Utilizing the light curves of G, K, F stars, planet candidates with period 1-5 year can be detected.

  • TDST will give star catalogues around North Ecliptic Pole before TESS, and is helpful to TESS mission. Additionally, the long period planets detected by TDST will be an important complementary for TESS and Plato. Planets around dwarfs are also expected. All these planets are suitable to be followed up by worldwide telescopes. 


School of Astronomy and Space Science

Astronomy Building, Xianlin Campus, Nanjing University, 163 Xianlin Avenue, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210093, P.R.China

Tel: +86-25-89681240

Fax: +86-25-83592882


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