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Interacting supernovae: studying stellar evolution, diversity and environment via their explosions

   Cardiff School of Physics and Astronomy

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  Dr C Inserra  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Supernovae are catastrophic stellar explosions shaping the visible Universe. They play an important role in the synthesis and distribution of almost all elements and especially heavy elements such as iron, enriching the Universe since the first supernova explosion when the cosmos was metal-free. We are now in the golden era of supernova astronomy - and in general of transients – since astronomical surveys are discovering roughly 20000 transients per year. Future astronomical experiments (for example the Large Survey of Space and Time - LSST) will boost the number of yearly discoveries by a factor of 100.

Interacting supernovae are an observational class displaying the outcome of the collision between the supernova material ejected into the cosmos and a previously expelled material in form of a stellar wind (meaning constant release of material) or a giant mass loss episode (meaning a one off release of material due to stellar instability). Such interaction can produce a huge variety of photometric (meaning luminosity evolution) and spectroscopic (meaning in terms of electromagnetic signature). The scope of this PhD project is to connect all such observables to create the first population study as a function of observables, readhsift and environment. This will unveil the nature of the prohgenitors, which has eluded our comprehension for decades!

In this project, the PhD student will gather knowledge of supernova explosions linked to the life and death of massive stars as well as programming skills in python and experience in observational astronomy, data reduction and data analysis.

Eligibility and how to apply:

The typical academic requirement is a minimum of a 2:1 physics or a relevant discipline.

Applicants whose first language is not English are normally expected to meet the minimum University requirements (e.g. 6.5 IELTS) (

Applicants should submit an application for Doctor of Philosophy in Physics and Astronomy via the Cardiff University webpages (with a start date of 1st October 2022): including:

• your academic CV

• a personal statement/covering letter

• two references, at least one of which should be academic

• Your degree certificates and transcripts to date.

In the "Research Proposal" section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisor of this project.

In the funding section, please select that you will not be self funding and write that the source of funding will be Cardiff University.

Once you have submitted your application please email [Email Address Removed] to advise us of your application number which will begin "22".

Funding Notes

Please note that bench fees may be charged in addition to tuition fees for this project. This will be confirmed as part of any formal offer for this project.


Type IIn supernova light-curve properties measured from an untargeted survey sample - Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 637, id.A73, 30 pp., 2020 -

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