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UCD School of Physics

Scoil na Fisice UCD

Astrophysics PhD position working on supernovae available in University College Dublin.

Applications are invited for a four year PhD studentship, starting in Sept/Oct 2017. The project will entail using observational data from world-class observatories to understand the final stages in the life of a massive star.

Stars above about 8 solar masses will end their lives with a spectacular explosion, as a core-collapse supernovae. These supernovae inject heavy elements and energy into galaxies, trigger star formation, and provide the building blocks of future stars and planets. In a subset of these supernovae, we see evidence for a dense shell of material surrounding the star before it explodes; fast supernova ejecta will collide with this shell giving rise to a bright transient.

Much about this process however remains uncertain. In some cases, we have seen outbursts from massive stars where a shell of material is ejected. However, the physical mechanism powering this ejection is unknown. Similarly, the timing of the ejection shortly before a star explodes as a core-collapse is a mystery. The successful candidate will use data from a range of telescope facilities obtained through the PESSTO and NUTS collaborations to understand these fascinating events.

As a minimum requirement, candidates will have an undergraduate degree (BSc or MSc) with grade 2.1 or better, in physics or a related discipline (or will expect to hold this by the start of the PhD).

Skills: In the course of this project, the student will learn the skills necessary for a career as an observational astrophysicist. They will have to opportunity to gain first hand experience of observing, and to work within a large, international collaboration or cutting edge scientific questions.

Funding is available for four years (fees and stipend). To apply, send your CV and cover letter, along with the contact details (phone / e-mail) of at least one academic referee to Dr. Morgan Fraser ( The deadline for applications is Friday March 18th 2017. For further details, please contact Dr. Morgan Fraser.



Eta Carina, a massive star in our own galaxy that underwent a spectacular eruption over 150 years ago (credit: ESA/NASA)