The recent second data release from the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite mission has opened up huge areas of stellar physics. One research area that has particularly benefited from these data is the study of white dwarfs. Until now, identifying these objects has been a long and difficult task, but with Gaia this is now straightforward. White dwarfs are often found in very close binary systems, including some of the Galaxy’s most exotic objects such as cataclysmic variables, Type Ia supernovae progenitors and double white dwarf binaries, which will be strong gravitational wave sources for future missions such as LISA. This PhD will involve combining Gaia data with wide field multi-epoch photometric surveys to identify white dwarf binaries, specifically those that are eclipsing, and then investigate them in detail using Sheffield’s suite of specialised high-speed cameras mounted on some of the largest telescopes in the world. These data will be used to refine binary evolution models, test stellar structure models and investigate the progenitors of Type Ia supernovae.
Science Graduate School: As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School – a community of postgraduate researchers working across biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and psychology. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/sgs to learn more.
UK and EU students are eligible for this studentship.