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PhD Opportunities

PhD Student Scholarships in Theoretical White Dwarf Research

With funding from the European Research Council and the University of Warwick, the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at University of Warwick is offering up to 2 PhD student scholarships (3.5 years), focusing on theoretical white dwarf research.

The students will lead the unique development of 3D simulations for white dwarf atmospheres based on the first principles of radiation-hydrodynamics. The PhD candidates will be supervised by Assistant Professor Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay and they will be part of the larger stellar astrophysics group within the department, with several staff and post-doctoral research associates. The students will have the possibility to both develop and test their models, using state-of-the-art spectroscopic and photometric observations from the Warwick University group, as well as astrometric data from the Gaia satellite (launched in 2013).

The PhD research projects will resolve around white dwarfs, the end stage of the life cycle for the vast majority of stars. These stellar remnants are precise cosmic clocks owing to their well constrained cooling rates, and they provide one of the most sensitive probes of the formation of the Milky Way. These compact matter laboratories also unravel the mass-loss in the post-main-sequence evolution and establish critical constraints for galactic chemical evolution models. The students will take an active part in building a new theoretical framework for white dwarfs with 3D model atmospheres. These improved calculations demonstrate that the widely used 1D model atmospheres inadequately describe convection, and therefore lead to incorrect derived masses and cooling ages. Possible topics for 2017 PhD projects include:

  • Simulating magnetic white dwarfs with 3D magnetohydrodynamics and using Gaia parallaxes to understand their origin, leading towards an understanding of the fraction of mergers that produces Type Ia supernovae.
  • Employing the all-sky Gaia sample of white dwarfs combined with state-of-the-art model atmospheres to deliver a precise stellar formation history for the solar neighbourhood.
  • Studying white dwarfs with evolved planetary systems that are currently accreting rocky material into their convection zones to obtain precise chemical abundances for rocky exoplanets.

Information for Applicants

In addition to the fully-funded PhD scholarships, research funds will be available for attending conferences and collaborative meetings.

Who can apply: The scholarships are open to EU and UK nationals. Candidates should hold or expect to hold a 1st (or high 2.1) in Physics or related subject area.

When to apply: Applications accepted at any time, and start dates are to an extent flexible, but interview rounds are likely to start in February 2017.

How to apply: The application process is the same as for other physics PhD students. To make an application, please complete the on-line forms linked from our Physics postgraduate admissions pages. Note that you must fulfill the same eligibility criteria as other physics PhD students to qualify for these scholarships. All students applying under the supervision of Dr. Tremblay will be automatically considered for these studentships and you do not have to tick the "apply for a scholarship" box.

For more information:
contact Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay

If you are interested in a PhD or MSc place in Astronomy at Warwick, and would like further information, please fill in our PhD enquiries form.

To make an application, please complete the on-line forms linked from our Physics postgraduate admissions pages.