Potential Stars and Planets PhD Projects

Project: Radio Emission from Massive Stars: Towards the SKA Era

Supervisor: Dr. Ian Stevens

Massive stars (OB and Wolf-Rayet stars) have strong, highly supersonic winds. These winds shape the environments of the stars and the star clusters they are in. The mass-loss process can dominate the stellar evolution of massive stars, determining the final outcome - a black-hole or neutron star. Radio emission is one of the main ways of studying the mass loss from these massive stars, which emit free-free emission, as well as synchrotron emission from shocks embedded in the winds. Many massive stars also have strong surface magnetic fields (several kilo-Gauss) which affects the dynamics of the stellar winds and radio emission.

Excitingly, several new major radio telescopes are available now (ASKAP, MEERKAT, JVLA, e-Merlin), all leading up to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which will revolutionise our view of the radio sky. We expect a range of important new observations on massive stars.

Several different project areas are available: i) New radio observations of magnetic massive stars: Using the new generation of radio telescopes to produce lightcurves of unprecedented sensitivity, covering at least one rotation period of the star, to look for variability in O-stars. ii) Colliding Winds: We can also observe (and model) massive binary systems, where both components have winds and this results in an energetic wind collision region, and showing thermal and non-thermal radio emission. iii) Using machine learning techniques to identify sources and features in radio survey data (using spatial/spectral/temporal data).

For more information please contact Dr. Ian Stevens (Email: irs[at]star.sr.bham.ac.uk)