The formation and evolution of discs around young stars

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Physics


Advances in observational facilities, particularly the advent of the Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA) and the VLT/SPHERE instrument, have recently provided images of discs around young stars at unprecedented resolutions and sensitivities. These observations are providing large samples of discs with measured masses and sizes, and that display a wide variety of structures (e.g. dust rings, spirals, and dust arcs).

The aim of this PhD project is to use hydrodynamical models of disc formation and evolution to extend our understanding of the origin of the diversity of protoplanetary discs and the physical processes that drive their evolution. The project will begin by examining the properties of discs produced in a series of radiation hydrodynamical simulations of star cluster formation, to determine how disc properties may depend on initial conditions and environment, such as in regions of lower or higher stellar density, or at different metallicities, or at high redshift. Following this initial project, attention will shift to detailed studies of discs around single and multiple protostellar systems, including better understanding the dynamics and growth of dust in protoplanetary discs (i.e. the earliest stages of planet formation), and the dynamics of discs in binary and multiple star systems (e.g. time-variable accretion from a circumbinary disc onto the embedded stars, and the evolution of discs that are misaligned with the orbit of a binary or multiple system). The project will involve performing and analysing state-of-the-art radiation hydrodynamical simulations of star formation and protoplanetary discs, and comparison of hydrodynamical models with analytical theory and observations.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ST/V506679/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024
2407766 Studentship ST/V506679/1 01/10/2020 31/03/2024 Daniel Elsender