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Star formation in the Milky Way – observing numerical models

Project Description

Given that we are embedded in the disc of our own Galaxy, it is incredibly hard to connect the resolved physics of star formation within individual molecular clouds, to their global Galactic context (e.g. their relative position with respect to the spiral arms or the Galactic bar). Indeed, by having to observe edge-on through our Galactic disc, line-of-sight projection effects remain a crucial barrier to our full understanding of the Milky Way (MW) structure, and of the MW as a global star-formation engine.

This project focuses on the study of molecular clouds and star formation from numerical simulations of the MW. In particular, the student will use (and potentially further develop) specifically tailored numerical simulations of the MW with the AREPO numerical code, including physics such as magnetic fields, chemistry, star formation, and feedback. In addition to studying those models in the 3D simulation space, the student will also produce a comprehensive set of synthetic galactic plane surveys (i.e. mock observations) with radiative transfer codes, to compare with current Galactic observations. These will include multiple transitions of CO, its isotopologues, and higher density tracers, as well as continuum observations, and potentially also polarisation. Besides testing the validity of the observable properties of our own Galaxy, this project will focus on understanding the physics driving the empirical relations that we observe.

This project will be funded by Cardiff University.
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 Cardiff University.

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

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)

Related Subjects

How good is research at Cardiff University in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 19.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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