I'm a 2nd year PhD student working with Dr Olja Panic, and my research uses interferometric observations to study the distribution of gas and dust in protoplanetary discs. Protoplanetary discs are populations of gas and dust in orbit around young stars. These discs simultaneously feed their host star by helping it to accrete material, but also provide an environment in which planets can be built; starting as sub-micron solid grains and sometimes growing to sizes several times greater than Jupiter.
I use observations from the Atacama Large Millimetre/sub-millimetre Array (ALMA, http://www.almaobservatory.org/en/home/), a state-of-the-art interferometer that has led to a new era in studies of star and planet formation as a result of its unprecedented resolution and sensitivity at millimetre and sub-millimetre wavelengths. At these wavelengths, our data allows us to peek into the coldest parts of the disc, including the dense mid-plane where gas giant planets will go on to form. Here, the gas and dust are intricately coupled, and disturbances from an orbiting planet or from the earliest physical processes leading up to planet formation, leave a signature in their distribution that we can detect and study.
I'm currently focusing on discs around the Herbig stars, in particular, the one around HD100546 in which there is already a protoplanet confirmed and there is widely expected to be a least one more that has eluded direct detection so far.
- MPHYS Physics with Astrophysics (University of Leeds) 2012-2016
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