The 900-year-old Oxford University was in shock on Friday after a prominent astrophysicist was found dead and a maths lecturer was arrested on suspicion of murder.

The body of Professor Steven Rawlings, 50, was found on Wednesday night at the home of his friend Dr Devinder Sivia, 49, after a neighbour called police to report an incident.

The entire university community has been profoundly saddened and shocked by the tragic and untimely death of Professor Steve Rawlings, said Oxford's Vice-Chancellor Andrew Hamilton, the university's senior officer.

Sivia was arrested on Wednesday night and released on bail on Friday morning until April 18. Police said a lengthy bail date was necessary because an autopsy conducted on Rawlings' body was inconclusive and further examinations were needed.

We can confirm that the two individuals involved have been friends for over 30 years, police said in a statement.

The police are investigating all potential circumstances that could have led to his (Rawlings')death.

Sivia is a lecturer in mathematics for the sciences at Saint John's, one of the 38 colleges that make up the university.

The college is shocked and distressed by this tragic event, said Sir Michael Scholar, president of Saint John's.

Rawlings was based at another college, Saint Peter's. He lectured on vector calculus to first-year undergraduates and had been head of Oxford's astrophysics department from 2006 to 2010.

He was a much-liked and admired tutor and colleague within the college and will be greatly missed, said Mark Damazer, master of Saint Peter's, in a statement.

Rawlings was one of the lead scientists in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), an international project to create the world's largest radio telescope.

The SKA will give astronomers insight into the formation and evolution of the first stars and galaxies after the Big Bang, the role of cosmic magnetism, the nature of gravity, and possibly even life beyond Earth, says the project's website.

Sivia teaches maths for natural sciences to physics and chemistry undergraduates.

My research interests revolve around the application of Bayesian probability theory to all sorts of data analysis problems, mainly in the physical sciences, he says on the Saint John's College website.

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Paul Casciato)