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Modelling the atmospheres of terrestrial exoplanets – PhD (Funded by STFC)


Project Description

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,009 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. The student would be based in the Departments of Mathematics and Physics in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.

Project Description:
Known as exoplanets, more than 4000 worlds are now known to orbit starts other than our Sun. Some of these are small, possibly rocky “terrestrial” planets that have the potential to host liquid water and could therefore permit the evolution of life. Next-generation observing systems such as the James Webb Space Telescope and the European Extremely Large Telescope will soon return observations that will allow characterisation of the basic physical features of these planets. The Exeter Exoplanet Theory Group (EETG) under the direction of Professor Nathan Mayne is engaged in theoretical and modelling studies to develop expectations of the nature of the atmospheres and climates of exoplanets and to help us to understand new telescope observations once they become available.

This studentship, supervised by Dr Hugo Lambert and Dr Eric Hebrard, will examine interactions between atmospheric physics and chemistry and how these affect planetary climate. We are particularly interested in the behaviour of water on drier planets and how this interacts with the warm and cold region climates of a given planet. On “tidally-locked” planets, which always show one face to their host star, the warm region is in perpetual starlight and the cold region is in perpetual night. Differences between the two regions are large and different mechanisms govern the fate of water. However, the research project is open ended and will depend on the interests of the successful candidate. The project will use the Unified Model, which is the fully-interactive 3D model of the UK Met Office used to make weather and climate predictions for Earth (and which has been adapted to exoplanets by the EETG and embedded Met Office experts).

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3.5 years of full-time study to commence in September 2020.

The studentship will cover a stipend at the minimum Research Council rate, £15,009 in 2019/20, research costs and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for students who meet the residency requirements outlined by the STFC. Students from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award but no stipend. Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding. Further information about eligibility can be found here.

Funding Notes

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,009 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. The student would be based in the Departments of Mathematics and Physics in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.

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