Please contact Prof Oudmaijer directly if you are interested in any of these projects.
Project 1: X-Shooter spectroscopy of Massive Young Stellar Objects
The formation of massive stars, stars much more massive than the Sun and which explode as a Supernova at the end of their lives, is still shrouded in mystery. One of the main reasons for this lack of understanding is that studies of these stars, and in particular of the circumstellar material close to the stellar surface, are sparse due to the fact that these objects are optically invisible and need to be studied at longer wavelengths such as the infrared.
In this project, a large sample of Massive Young Stellar Objects for which high quality K-band spectra have recently been obtained will be analysed. The sample consists of more than 60 objects, and the spectra cover the complete near-infrared range from 1 to 2 .4 micron, covering many diagnostic absorption and emission lines. The data come from the 8meter VLT, one of the world’s premier and sought after telescopes. It is the largest such dataset ever acquired for this type of object. With the data you will investigate the stellar and circumstellar properties of the objects both individually and globally.
Project 2: The binarity of young stars as traced by Gaia
Over the past years it has emerged that the binarity of massive stars may significantly affect their evolution and properties; massive Main Sequence stars have a binary fraction close to 100%, while 70% of these have sufficiently small separations for interactions to occur. This will significantly affect their further evolution. If we are to understand the evolution and fate of massive stars therefore, we need to understand how their binarity came to be. Thus, an important question is how these binaries were formed and evolved. To do so we need to go to the earliest stages in the lives of stars to study the proto- binaries. However, especially for those all important massive stars, not much data is known on their early binarity. In this project we will use data from the revolutionary Gaia telescope and its upcoming 2021 Data Release 3 in particular to search for, identify and characterize the binarity from an existing sample of known, young Pre-Main Sequence stars. In addition, Machine Learning techniques will be used to further explore the gigantic Gaia database and discover new such objects.