Predoctoral Projects, 2015

Project Title: High Energy Stellar Physics

Project Advisor: Dr. Jeremy J. Drake

Background: Stars exhibit a range of energetic phenomena: hot coronae found on young protostars and stars like the Sun accretion thermal radiation from hot white dwarfs, novae and neutron stars. These phenomena are all characterised by plasmas that radiate copiously in the X-ray range and can be studied with satellite observatories above the Earths atmosphere.

Scientific Questions: What heats the coronae of stars? How do stellar outer atmospheric phenomena affect stellar and planetary evolution - star formation itself, protoplanetary disks, angular momentum loss through stellar winds and mass ejections, and the evolution of binary systems? What is the nature of the outer layers of neutron stars? What is happening in violent novae explosions?

Scientific Methodology: Our studies have recently concentrated on X-ray observations of stars using the Chandra and XMM-Newton observatories, and multi-dimensional photoionisation and radiative transfer models of protoplanetarty disks. High resolution X-ray diffraction grating spectra provide detailed information on individual objects, whereas CCD imaging spectroscopy provides lower resolution information on larger samples of objects, such as young pre-main sequence star clusters. Other observations compliment these studies for example, optical high resolution spectroscopy has been used to obtain information on elemental abundances that are of interest for probing outer atmospheric abundance anomalies in stars. Protoplanetary disk models are employed to investigate disk structure and ionisation under the influence of energetic phenomena.

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Clay Fellow Warren Brown