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Pathways to thermonuclear supernovae

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Dr S Parsons Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
Sheffield United Kingdom Astrophysics

About the Project

Thermonuclear supernovae are the result of the explosion of a white dwarf star in a binary system, the most well know of which are the cosmologically important Type Ia supernovae (SN Ia). The nature of the companion star to the white dwarf, which feeds the white dwarf material leading to its eventual explosion, is still unknown and it's possible that there are multiple SN Ia formation channels. This could result in systematic uncertainties that limit their use as cosmological probes, making it essential to uncover the progenitors of SN Ia. In this PhD project you will go further back in time and study the detached white dwarf plus main-sequence star binaries that virtually all thermonuclear supernova eventually descend from. You will anaylse both ground- and space-based spectroscopic data for a large number of these detached binaries, including a substantial amount of recently allocated observations with the Hubble Space Telescope. You will combine these datasets with sophisticated stellar and binary modelling to reconstruct their histories, predict their future evolution and establish which pathways towards thermonuclear supernovae are the most common.

Funding Notes

UK students are eligible for studentships fully-funded by STFC. Students from outside the UK may also apply, but will need to find their own funding.
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