Understanding the Universe with stellar and galactic modelling

The astrophysics group at the University of Surrey invites applications for a fully-funded PhD position to work in either 1) Galactic dynamics with stellar streams or 2) Stellar and binary evolution and nucleosynthesis.

Start date
1 October 2022
3 years
Application deadline
Funding source
Funding information

The studentship will cover tuition fees in full and it will provide a PhD stipend at the standard STFC level of c. £16,062 per annum, as well as a budget for training activities (e.g. conferences).


Project 1

Stellar streams are a powerful probe of the Milky Way’s dark matter halo. In this project, the student will work on measuring the large-scale distribution of dark matter using stellar streams observed with Gaia and ongoing/upcoming spectroscopic surveys such as S5/WEAVE/4MOST. In addition to measuring the overall shape of the halo, the student will work on detecting the time-dependent shape of the Milky Way as it deforms in the presence of the Large Magellanic Cloud. The student will also validate these measurements with tests on mock data from high-resolution cosmological simulations.

Project 2

Computational project taking advantage of big data from large surveys like ESA's Gaia, SDSS, Galah and Pan-STARRS. The successful candidate will model single, binary and triple stars using a stellar population nucleosynthesis code and implement statistical tools to make comparisons with Gaia data. One aim is to pin down uncertain processes in single and multiple-star evolution, like the common-envelope evolution efficiency that governs the number of type Ia supernovae and merging neutron star–black hole systems. Applicants are requested to express a preference for one research area.

Project 3

Hydrodynamical modelling of common-envelope evolution using the Gizmo code as input for binary-star population synthesis modelling.

Project 4

Modelling thermonuclear novae using MESA including full stellar feedback and blast-wave interaction on a companion star, followed by implementation in stellar population modelling of single, binary, and multiple star systems to estimate numbers of novae and their contribution to galactic chemical evolution.

Related links
Astrophysics research group

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must have an undergraduate or masters degree in physics, astronomy or astrophysics at the time of start of the PhD.

The post is open to UK and international students.

Overall IELTS grade of 6.5 or above with a minimum of 6.0 in each individual category, in the last 2 years.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Advanced Technology Institute PhD programme page on the "Apply" tab. Please clearly state the studentship title and supervisor on your application.

Application deadline

Contact details

Denis Erkal
12 BC 03
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 686990
E-mail: d.erkal@surrey.ac.uk

Studentships at Surrey

We have a wide range of studentship opportunities available.