UCL Astrophysics Group


PhD Projects: Extragalactic Astrophysics

Drinking evolved stars and binaries from the Gaia firehose

In 2022, the ongoing Gaia mission released its first full data release that includes not only a deeper 3D motion picture for a significant fraction of the Milky Way, but also catalogs overflowing with binary and variable stars.  It is not an exaggeration to say that a virtual fountain of discoveries awaits any research student interested in binary stars and stellar evolution.  At UCL, students have recently led a number of scientific breakthroughs using Gaia; for example, a new phase of stellar evolution in which white dwarfs develop active chromospheres like our Sun, and a previously unknown population of ancient stars through unexpected carbon signatures in high velocity red dwarfs.  The data-driven and observational project will focus on improving our understanding of white dwarfs and dwarf carbon stars, variability, magnetism, binary fractions, origins and evolution.  Many major discoveries are just over the horizon thanks to Gaia.

Contact: Prof Jay Farihi (j.farihi AT star.ucl.ac.uk)

The many scales of star formation: from halos to molecular clouds

Our view of the connection between the large scale properties of galaxies, their environments, interstellar medium, and the physics of star formation is currently being reshaped. New observations are revealing that star formation is a multi-scale process, pointing to a deep connection between the location of galaxies in the cosmic web, their ability to refuel their gas reservoirs, and ultimately turning this gas into stars. In this project, you will explore the connection between galaxies (in particular their cold gas contents and star formation activity) and the large scale environment they occupy (dark matter halo masses and location in the cosmic web) to lend further evidence for this multi-scale connection. You will become a member of the DESI and 4MOST-WAVES surveys, making use of these data to quantify the environments of galaxies, with the possibility of getting involved with infrastructure and observing work for these large projects. There is also an opportunity to work with ALMA/IRAM/JCMT data, and to collaborate with other members of the UCL Extragalactic group on related topics. 

Contact: Prof Amelie Saintonge (a.saintonge AT ucl.ac.uk)

Related projects are also advertised under Cosmology & Surveys