Examples of projects I am advertising for 2018 (other projects are possible):
Galaxy populations behind the Magellanic Clouds
The VISTA Magellanic Clouds survey (VMC) is near its completion of the - by far - deepest and most detailed near-infrared mapping of the nearby Magellanic Clouds galaxies, the region in between them, and several flanking fields. This provides a fantastic opportunity for an unbiased near-infrared based selection of background galaxies. Preliminary work has already uncovered galaxies at redshifts between < 0.1 and > 4, some with active nuclei and some with strong absorption line systems arising in foreground gas-rich objects. Combination with equally superb mid- and far-infrared maps from the SAGE and HERITAGE projects, radio continuum surveys, and X-ray observations offer a wealth of data to characterise the galaxies and identify both trends and outliers. (An example of the latter was our discovery of a modest-mass early-type galaxy hosting an oversized black hole.) The student is expected to undertake follow-up observations.
Red supergiants in nearby galaxies
Red supergiants are highly-evolved, massive stars. Some are known to explode as a supernova of type II-P, and others are known to change into a blue supergiant before exploding (for instance SN1987A). Their fate depends on the mass loss, which is poorly quantified and even less understood. They produce dust, which in extreme cases obscures the star from optical view. Aside from the effects on the star and on the galaxy in which it resides, the mass loss also affects the luminosity distributions of the red supergiant populations in a given galaxy, and of the identifiable supernova progenitors. This project aims to quantify the mass loss, dust production and evolutionary timescales of the red supergiant populations in nearby galaxies (roughly within 7 Mpc, out to the distance of M101 and NGC6946), using existing and new optical and infrared observations. The student is expected to undertake some of these new observations.
(2018-........) Clara Pennock
(2016-2017) James Bamber
(2014-2018) Ameerah Al Sadooni
(2013-2017) Steven Goldman
(2013-2018) Kingsley Gale-Sides
(2010-2018) Benjamin Tatton
(2010-2014) Masha Lakicevic
(2009-2013) Amanda Bailey
(2007-2011) Atefeh Javadi
(2005-2009) Iain McDonald
(2002-2006) Jonathan Marshall