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Studying the populations of nature’s brightest fireworks

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  • Full or part time
    Dr C Inserra
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The last ten years have opened up a new parameter space in time-domain astronomy with the surprising discovery of transients defying our understanding of how stars explode. Probing the physics of these transients can reveal the enrichment of the Universe and can offer the tantalising possibility of a new era in the study of the Universe and its evolution. Among such transients, there are the brightest and long lasting supernovae explosions called ‘superluminous supernovae’. They are characterized by absolute luminosities at maximum light of M ~ −21 magnitudes (5-100 times brighter than any other supernova) and a preference for low-metallicity, star-forming environments.

Ten years after their discovery and with a sample of 100 objects, we advanced in sampling their observational properties (luminosity and electromagnetic spectrum evolution) and grouping them in two well distinct classes. Nevertheless, the most compelling questions are still unanswered. What is their origin? Why only some of them can be used in cosmological studies up to distances beyond any other supernova explosion?

Several research directions are possible to answer such questions, including population studies of the two subclasses and their connection to the environment harbouring such violent and enigmatic phenomena. These studies could also answer the second question, providing new information on the standardisable superluminous supernovae, refining their standardization and use in cosmology similarly to what done by the Nobel winning studies on thermonuclear (type Ia) SNe.

In this project, the PhD student will gather knowledge of supernova explosions linked to the life and death of massive stars as well as programming skills in python, experience in observational astronomy, cosmology and statistics.

Consideration is automatic upon application for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy in Physics and Astronomy with an October 2019 start date.

In the ’Research proposal and Funding’ section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided (you are able to state multiple advertised projects that you would like to be considered for)

Please select ’No, I am not self-funding my research’ when asked whether you are self-funding your research.

Please add ’STFC funded studentship’ when asked ’Please provide the name of the funding you are applying for’.

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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