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The Dynamical Evolution of Massive Star Forming Regions (Dr Nick Wright, Prof Rob Jeffries)

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

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  • Full or part time
    Dr R Hirschi
  • 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

Most stars, including the Sun, are born in clusters ranging in size from 100 to 1 million members. These clustered environments may be of the utmost importance in the early lives of stars and their circumstellar material - close stellar encounters in high density regions can shape planetary systems, whilst the ionising radiation from nearby, high mass stars can photoevaporate discs and drive gas from the star forming region. Most clusters do not survive longer than 10 million years, but the reasons for this are poorly understood - are they born in an unbound state, or does expulsion of residual gas lead to their disruption?

In this project the student will use exquisitely accurate tangential velocities derived from long time-series of cluster images to examine the dynamics of high-mass star forming regions - large clusters containing more than 10,000 stars. These studies will be complemented by spectroscopy from massive spectroscopic surveys such as the Gaia-ESO survey at the VLT and new data from WEAVE at the William Herschel Telescope, in order to identify cluster members, and will take advantage of the first releases of data from the European Gaia astrometric satellite. The aim of the project will be to obtain diagnostics of how these clusters formed, their present dynamical state and their future evolution. These diagnostics will be compared with state-of-the art N-body numerical models. An important part of the project will be to perform detailed simulations of how the sensitivity and biases inherent in real, imperfect observations affect the comparison with these models and to design new diagnostics that are largely immune to such biases. Such diagnostics and techniques will be widely applicable to many other projects using the Gaia data

Funding Notes

100% UK/EU tuition fees for 3 years commencing Academic year 2016/2017. Stipend support for three years at Research Council rates (2015/6 £14,057 per annum).
Jointly supported by STFC and the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Keele University.

UK residents are eligible for full funding (tuition fees and stipend at Research Council rate). EU nationals (who are not resident in the UK) will normally qualify for a fees-only award.

Closing date:
26th February 2016 in the first instance. Applications received by deadline will receive first consideration, applications received after deadline will be considered until the positions are filled.
Available from September 2016.


For candidate profile please see:

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