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Resolving the gaseous environments of dwarf galaxies

Project Description

In order for galaxies to grow, they have to accrete gas from their surrounding large-scale haloes, a regime known as the circumgalactic medium (CGM). Vice versa, galactic winds driven by, for example, supernovae and supermassive black holes eject gas from the galaxy, thus heating and enriching their environments. Due to the complex interplay of these inflows and outflows, it is challenging to correctly model the CGM, but studying this regime has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of galaxy formation. Cosmological simulations usually focus most of their computational effort on creating the best galaxies and incorrectly assume that the treatment of the CGM is sufficiently accurate. However, the CGM consists of multi-phase gas and the cooler component is not well-resolved in standard simulations. New numerical methods have therefore been developed in order to increase the resolution of the gas around galaxies and study the CGM in more detail than has ever been possible before. This PhD project will focus on galaxies somewhat smaller than the Milky Way (also known as dwarf galaxies) for which stellar feedback (such as from supernova explosions and cosmic rays) is known to be important and for which observations of the CGM are available. The PhD student will take charge of developing and running dwarf galaxy simulations with enhanced CGM resolution, resolving the cool CGM gas for the first time. They will then have the opportunity to exploit the simulation data to study gas accretion, galactic winds, chemical enrichment, and other properties of the CGM. By comparing their simulations to existing observations and making predictions for future observations, the PhD student will be able to reveal the crucial role the CGM plays in the formation of dwarf galaxies and to put galaxy formation models to the test.

This project will be funded by the STFC.
Applicants should apply to the Doctor of Philosophy in Physics and Astronomy with a start date of 1st October 2020.

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project. If you are applying for more than one project, please list the individual titles of the projects in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select ’I will be applying for a scholarship/grant’ and specify that you are applying for advertised funding from the STFC.

Applicants will need to submit the following documents with their application:
- post high school certificates and transcripts to date
- academic CV
- personal statement
- two academic references. Your references can either be uploaded with your application, or emailed by the referee to or

Funding Notes

Funding Notes
Tuition fee support: Full UK/EU tuition fees
Maintenance stipend: Doctoral stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum

You should have obtained, or be about to obtain a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree in Physics , or a related subject, Alternatively, applicants with equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK will also be considered. Applicants with a Lower Second Class degree will be considered if they also have a Master’s degree.
Applicants whose first language is not English are normally expected to meet the minimum University requirements (e.g. 6.5 IELTS)


Cosmological simulations of the circumgalactic medium with 1 kpc resolution: enhanced HI column densities
Freeke van de Voort, Volker Springel, Nir Mandelker, Frank C. van den Bosch, Rüdiger Pakmor
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, Volume 482, Issue 1, p.L85-L89

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