Supervisors: Professor Stephen Smartt and the transient group in ARC
Note there may be more than 1 project in this area
Supernovae are the explosive deaths of stars, occurring at the end of stellar evolution for massive stars and certain types of binary star system. They are important to a number of modern astrophysical topics: most of the heavy elements are synthesised in supernova explosions, supernovae inject energy and momentum to the interstellar medium and some classes of supernovae can be used as accurate cosmic distance indicators, making it possible to map out the expansion history of the Universe. A new type of astronomical transient called a kilonova, has been identified, caused by the merger of two neutron stars, creating a burst of gravitational waves.
The current generation of astronomical surveys (including work led from Queen's) are yielding observational data of unprecedented quantity and quality. Thanks to these, we have uncovered a startling array of new and unexpected phenomena in astronomical explosions: sometimes unexpected properties of previously known classes of transient and in other cases completely new types of event. These new discoveries can test and challenge our understanding of astronomical transients and give us new insights on a range of fundamental astrophysical topics. For the first time we can combine photons with another astrophysical signature - gravitational waves, to give us insights into the final stages of compact object mergers which in 2017 have been shown to produce remarkably luminous electromagnetic signatures.
Our project will be based on the analysis, interpretation and modelling of observations of newly-discovered classes of astronomical explosion.
The project will involve a combination of gathering/analysis of photometric and spectroscopic data (x-ray, UV, optical and infrared) as part of our supernovae research group. Depending on the project, this may also involve gravitational wave analysis.