Potential Stars and Planets PhD Projects

Stellar Interactions and Transients

Supervisor: Dr Silvia Toonen (Email s.toonen[at]bham.ac.uk)

Stellar mergers mark the violent end of the life of a binary, and give rise to some of the most energetic events known in the universe; ranging from electromagnetic transients (such as supernova type Ia and luminous red novae), as well as gravitational wave sources (with LIGO & LISA). Upcoming surveys will open an unprecedented window to these events, and directly provide information on their properties. However, the exact progenitors and their formation are often unclear, and the relative importance of different types of mergers uncertain. The aim of this project is to explore the evolution self-consistently using stellar evolution modelling and population synthesis. With a computational approach, we will study not only binary evolution, but also focus on the cutting-edge field of triple evolution using innovative methods and codes. We will identify stellar mergers, compute their occurrence rate for various assumptions of stellar evolution and interaction, and finally set against the results from gravitational wave and electromagnetic surveys to unravel the mysterious progenitors of stellar mergers.

To get a feeling about the kind of research you will be doing, here are a couple of papers by Dr. Toonen relevant to this project:

For more information, please see Dr Toonen's webpage at http://www.sr.bham.ac.uk/~toonen/