PhD - Fundamental physics and targeted searches for pulsars

University of East Anglia - School of Chemistry

Start Date: October 2017

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Dr Robert Ferdman

Project description: Pulsars are the neutron-star (NS) remnants of supernova explosions. These cosmic lighthouses produce radio emission beams from their magnetic poles, detected once per rotation, as the beam sweeps past our line of sight. Pulsars are among the most extremely dense, highly magnetic objects in the Universe. They often display outstanding rotational stability, approaching that of atomic clocks over timescales of several years.

Pulsar observations allow us to address many pressing questions in fundamental physics and astrophysics with great precision.  Indeed, pulsar studies have an excellent track record for providing stringent constraints on the predictions of Einstein's theory of general relativity, stellar evolution and population studies, and the nature of ultra-dense nuclear matter.

The above research depends on the discovery of many more NS systems. In this PhD project, our goal is to search for pulsars, and perform longer-term follow-up timing analysis on those discovered. This includes a targeted search at the positions of low-mass white-dwarf stars — typical binary companions to NSs – found in optical surveys such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.  We also aim to observe several recently discovered microlensing events caused by high-mass compact objects, which may include NSs. The discovery of NSs in such systems holds potential value for tests of relativity and gravitational-wave studies, as well as constraining models of binary evolution or NS interiors.

The successful applicant will be amongst the first doctoral candidates in physics at UEA, and will gain skills in software development/usage, and analysis of large time-series data sets.  The student will also join a vibrant international community, and will have opportunities for conference and collaborative-based travel.

Interviews will take place between 16 January and 24 February 2017.

Person specification:  2:1 or above in Physics, astronomy, mathematics

Funding notes: This PhD project is in a Faculty of Science competition for funded studentships. These studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise home/EU fees, an annual stipend of £14,296 and £1000 per annum to support research training. Overseas applicants may apply but they are required to fund the difference between home/EU and overseas tuition fees (in 2016/17 the difference is £12,879 for the Schools of CHE & PHA, and £9,679 for CMP & MTH but fees are subject to an annual increase)

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