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Multi-messenger astrophysics: exploring the electromagnetic characteristics of short-duration GRBs and kilonovae

Project Description

Binaries consisting of two neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole, will eventually merge due to orbital decay through the emission of gravitational radiation. The mergers themselves release vast amounts of energy, which is thought in some cases to lead to the production of short-duration gamma-ray bursts. They also expel highly radioactive neutron-rich nuclei, which should decay to form the stable r-process elements (such as gold and platinum), while powering an explosion known as a kilonova. Finally, these systems, as they merge, produce gravitational waves that can be detected using the current generation of terrestrial detectors. In Leicester we have a long background in this field, including making the first kilonova discovery in 2013, and being centrally involved in the discovery of the first electromagnetic counterparts to the neutron star binary merger, GW170817.

The project would involve exploring the electromagnetic characteristics of short-duration GRBs and kilonovae, to better understand their population properties and look for them in coincidence with gravitational wave detections. The student will use data from major projects in which we are involved, for example, Swift, VISTA, GOTO, VLT, HST etc., and work with experienced observers and theorists in our group and wider collaborations. This is important to establish the rates of systems that can produce detectable gravitational wave events, and to quantify the role of compact binary mergers in r-process production.

Funding Notes

This project is eligible for a fully funded STFC studentship which includes :
· A full UK/EU fee waiver for 3.5 years
· An annual tax free stipend of £14,777 (2018/19)
· Research Training Support Grant (RTSG)
· Conference Fees & UK Fieldwork

Studentships are available to UK/EU applicants who meet the STFC Residency Criteria; if you have been ordinarily resident in the UK for three years you will normally be entitled to apply for a full studentship.


Tanvir et al. 2013 Nature 500 547
Tanvir et al. 2017 ApJ 848 L27
Evans et al. 2017 Science 358 1565
Abbott et al. 2017 ApJ 848 L12

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Leicester in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 49.33

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