Made-to-measure modelling of the Milky Way

Start date

1 October 2024


3.5 years

Application deadline

Funding source

UKRI and/or University of Surrey

Funding information

We are offering the UKRI standard stipend (currently £18,622 per year) with an additional bursary of £1,700 per year for full 3.5 years for exceptional candidates. In addition, a research, training and support grant of £3,000 over the project is also offered. Full home or overseas tuition fees (as applicable) will be covered.


The European Space Agency’s Gaia mission to map the position and motion of nearly 1.8 billion stars has revolutionized our view of the Milky Way. But, 1.8 billion stars is still only 1% of the stars in our Galaxy, and a large part of the Milky Way remains unseen. We need accurate models of our Galaxy to help us understand the data, and the part of the Galaxy which we can’t map directly. 

Creating a N-body galaxy simulation of a Milky Way-like disc galaxy is easy. But making an accurate model of a specific galaxy such as the Milky Way is much more challenging. Made-to-Measure (M2M) is a method to tailor a galaxy simulation to match data, and it can be used to build a full model of the Milky Way from the Gaia data (Hunt et al. 2014). 

However, there are no public M2M algorithms, none that currently include chemistry, and they are all built on older infrastructure. 

In this project you would develop a modern, GPU accelerated chemodynamic M2M algorithm and use it to build a next generation simulation of the Milky Way, tailored to data from Gaia and state-of-the-art ground-based surveys such as SDSS & WEAVE.  

The project would suit someone with an interest in Galactic dynamics & archaeology, and development of astrophysics simulation software, including GPU programming. You would learn software development skills as well as theoretical astrophysics, working within a friendly and welcoming department with lots of complementary expertise on galaxies, stars and dark matter. 

Eligibility criteria

Open to both UK and international candidates.

Up to 30% of our UKRI-funded studentships can be awarded to candidates paying international rate fees. Find out more about eligibility.

You will need to meet the minimum entry requirements for our Physics PhD programme.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Physics PhD programme page. In place of a research proposal, you should upload a document stating the title of the project that you wish to apply for and the name of the relevant supervisor.

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Application deadline

Contact details

Jason Hunt

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