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Warwick Astronomy PhD Projects

Host galaxies of cosmic explosions

Supernovae and gamma-ray bursts are extremely bright events, making them "lighthouses" from the early universe. Because they are also related with the deaths of stars, they enable starforming galaxies to be located and studied in great detail at distances where they are frequently too faint to observe, even using large telescopes. However, under standard models of heirarchical galaxy formation larger galaxies build up from small components, making faint high redshift galaxies a vital means of understanding how the processes of both star and galaxy formation occur in the early universe. In turn, the properties of the galaxies, for example the chemical evolution occurring within them can be used to probe the nature of the supernovae and gamma-ray burst progenitors, and how they might evolve over cosmic time.

Various projects are available to work in this area.

How do gamma-ray bursts trace star formation? What is the GRB derived star formation rate of the universe?

How do the properties of gamma-ray burst and supernovae host galaxy differ in terms of their luminosities, sizes and chemical content? What does this mean for the stars which form them?

How are GRBs, and supernovae of different types distributed on their host galaxy light? What does this imply about the masses of the stars which form them? Are GRBs the signature of the birth of a black hole?

These projects will be primarily observational using data from a range of telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the 8-m Very Large Telescope (VLT). They may also include a work in a range of different wavelengths including the optical, infrared, sub-millimetre and radio.

For further information please email Andrew Levan

The host galaxies of a sample of supernova discovered by deep observations with the Hubble Space Telescope, the green crosshairs mark the position of the supernova on its host galaxy. Studying both the properties of the galaxies themselves and the locations of the supernovae on them may be parts of this project.


Please fill in our PhD enquiries form if you are interested in studying for a PhD in Astronomy at Warwick.