School of Physics and Astronomy

Planet formation in stellar clusters

Research Group:Planetary Formation and Dynamics (Astronomy Unit)

Number of Students: 1

Length of Study in Years: 3-4

Full-time Project: yes

Funding:

STFC studentships, QMUL College studentships

Project Description:

Planets are formed from discs of material around young stars. However, most stars form in clustered groups of up to hundreds of thousands. Radiation from massive stars in these clusters can impinge upon planet-forming discs and evaporate them, limiting their mass, radius and lifetime. This in turn could affect the properties of the resulting planets. Understanding how discs evolve and produce planets in different radiation environments is crucial given the diversity of exoplanet properties that are being discovered.
A summary of the different astrophysical scales involved in this PhD project. It will links star cluster/feedback simulations with models of evaporating discs to compute planet populations and compare with observed exoplanet properties.
Figure: A summary of the different astrophysical scales involved in this PhD project. It will links star cluster/feedback simulations with models of evaporating discs to compute planet populations and compare with observed exoplanet properties. 
This project will make the first links between models of stellar clusters with disc evolution through to predicting resulting planet populations. It will:
  1. Span a wide range of astrophysics (star formation, accretion discs, planet formation, exoplanets)
  2. Involve world leading numerical simulations on supercomputers, including hydrodynamics, radiative transfer and photochemistry
  3. Involve working with real observational data (archival exoplanet data, but also new disc data from ALMA). 
You will therefore develop a very wide range of skills and expertise as part of this project!
Some papers and other resources for the interested student:

Requirements:

A Masters degree in physics, mathematics, or similar. In addition to this, the main requirement is familiarity with scientific programming, which will underpin a significant fraction of the research.

SPA Academics: Dr Tom Haworth