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Chemistry in planet-forming regions revealed by ALMA


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Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Monday 31 January 2022
Project start date
Monday 3 October 2022
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Competition funded
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Dr Catherine Walsh
School of Physics and Astronomy
Research groups/institutes
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is a telescope in Chile that observes the universe at millimeter wavelengths. ALMA has the resolution and sensitivity to observe emission from cold dust and molecular gas on planet-forming scales. This allows us to probe the planet-building environment around nearby stars on size scales similar to the Solar System. Recent observations with ALMA have revealed the almost ubiquitous presence of dust substructure in disks around nearby young stars, in which the dust has been shepherded into concentric dust rings and asymmetric vortices. One of the proposed origins of this dust structure is the presence of still-forming planets within the disk.<br /> <br /> A recent ALMA Large Program involving Leeds researchers, titled Molecules with ALMA on Planet-forming Scales or MAPS, imaged for the first time, the chemistry of planet formation on Solar System size scales. These data revealed a wealth of chemical diversity, with observed chemical sub-structure usually not coincident with dust sub-structure. It is still not understood why disks exhibit such chemical diversity but it is likely due to the complex interplay between dust, radiation, chemistry, and transport of material. <br /> <br /> Determining the origin of chemical sub-structure in disks requires the development of new models of protoplanetary disks that incorporate all of these important physical effects. If awarded funding, the successful candidate will develop new models of disk chemistry that include the effects of dust evolution and sub-structure, radial transport, and mixing, motivated by current theories on the origin of dust sub-structure in disks. You will use these models to simulate observations to directly compare with the results from the MAPS ALMA Large Program, and you will produce suites of diagnostics that will be used to motivate future ALMA proposals.<br /> <br /> This project would be particularly suited to a candidate interested in conducting a computational project in astrochemistry and planet formation, and who would enjoy the challenge of working with state-of-the-art models and observational data from ALMA. The successful candidate will have a first class or upper second class degree in physics, astrophysics, or astronomy.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

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<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the Planned Course of Study that you are applying for <em><strong>PHD Physics &amp; Astronomy FT</strong></em>&nbsp;and in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is <strong><em>Chemistry in planet-forming regions revealed by ALMA</em> </strong>as well as&nbsp;<a href=""><strong>Dr Catherine Walsh</strong></a> as your proposed supervisor.&nbsp; Applications received directly via e-mail will not be reviewed.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p><strong>Self-Funded or externally sponsored students are welcome to apply.</strong></p> <p><strong>UK&nbsp;</strong>&ndash;&nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Doctoral Scholarships</a>, <a href="">Akroyd &amp; Brown</a>, <a href="">Frank Parkinson</a> and <a href="">Boothman, Reynolds &amp; Smithells</a> are available to UK applicants. The&nbsp;<a href="">Bell Burnell Scholarship Award</a>&nbsp;is available to support applicants who are from groups that are currently under-represented in physics (awarded by the IOP).&nbsp; <a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Non-UK </strong>&ndash; The&nbsp;<a href="">School of Physics &amp; Astronomy Partial Fee Scholarship&nbsp;</a>is available to support the additional academic fees of Non-UK applicants. The&nbsp;<a href="">Bell Burnell Scholarship Award</a>&nbsp;is available to support applicants who are from groups that are currently under-represented in physics (awarded by the IOP).&nbsp; &nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="">China Scholarship Council - University of Leeds Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to nationals of China. The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Marshall Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to support US citizens. <a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information on the project please contact Dr Catherine Walsh<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <p>For further information on the application process, please contact Doctoral College Admissions: e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked funding opportunities</h3>