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PhD Opportunities

Research on White Dwarfs and Evolved Planetary Systems

posted September 2019


The PhD research project will resolve around white dwarfs, the end stage of the life cycle for the vast majority of stars and planets. 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. White dwarfs are also an unique tool to characterise the bulk composition of rocky exoplanets. You will take an active part in leading science projects based on our new catalogue of 250,000 white dwarfs from Gaia, including 10,000 objects with planetary systems, and their spectroscopic follow-ups with the WEAVE and 4MOST surveys. Both computational and data science (interpreting observations) projects are possible, such as:

  • Employing the all-sky Gaia sample of white dwarfs, combined with a grid of state-of-the-art 3D model atmospheres, to deliver a precise stellar formation history for the disk of our Milky Way.
  • Following-up on our recent discovery that a large fraction of white dwarfs are solid. This more theoretical project would improve the interior physics of white dwarfs to obtain precise ages for the oldest stars in the Milky Way.
  • 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.

For more information: contact Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay

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