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Understanding planetary building blocks (AST/2020/ALE)


Project Description

Planets form in cold discs of gas and dust around young stars like our Sun. in the last few years new facilities, most notably ALMA, have allowed us to observe these young, protoplanetary discs in unprecedented detail, and these observations have revealed a wealth of unexpected structure in discs: rings, gaps, spirals, and warps appear to be ubiquitous.

However, the majority of our observations only “see” emission from solid particles (“dust”) in the disc, and the gas – which dominates the dynamics – remains largely invisible. Understanding how dust moves relative to the gas is therefore a critical step in understanding these new observations.

In this project the student will build state-of-the-art models to study how the interaction between dust and gas shapes the observability of structures in young, planet-forming discs. We will initially make use of simplified 1-D models of coupled dust/gas disc evolution, in order to understand how structures in planet-forming discs behave on long time-scales.

We will then extend the calculations to include 3-D hydrodynamics, in order to understand the observable properties of these systems in detail. The overall aim is to understand what high resolution observations of discs can (can cannot) tell us about the solid bodies that represent the building blocks of exoplanets.

Entry Requirements

UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.

The University of Leicester English language requirements apply.

Home/EU students only subject to residency requirements.

Application Instructions

When applying, please ensure we have received all of the following required documents by Wednesday 29th January 2020:

• Submit an online application form https://le.ac.uk/study/research-degrees/funded-opportunities/stfc-studentships
• 2 academic references
• STFC Research Interests Form
• CV
• Undergraduate transcripts
- If you have completed your undergraduate degree, we will also require your undergraduate degree certificate
- If you have completed a postgraduate degree, we will also require your transcripts and degree certificate

If we do not have the required documents by the closing date, your application may not be considered for the studentship.

Interview Dates

26th February 2020 – In person
27th February 2020 – Skype only
28th February 2020 – Skype only
2nd March 2020 – Skype only
3rd March 2020 – Skype only
4th March 2020 – In person

Funding Notes

Funding Source: STFC Quota Studentship

3.5 year Studentship provides a tuition fee waiver at UK/EU rates, stipend at UKRI rates and RTSG.

References

1. "Rings and gaps in the disc around Elias 24 revealed by ALMA", Dipierro et al. (2018). https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2018MNRAS.475.5296D/abstract

2. "Gas and multispecies dust dynamics in viscous protoplanetary discs: the importance of the dust back-reaction", Dipierro et al. (2018). https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2018MNRAS.479.4187D/abstract

3. "Dust dynamics during protoplanetary disc clearing", Alexander & Armitage (2007). https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2007MNRAS.375..500A/abstract

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