Degree projects in Astronomy and Space Physics
Astrophysics is the study of the behavior, physical properties, and dynamical processes of celestial objects and phenomena. Through its study one hopes to understand the formation and evolution of the universe and all its parts. Research at the department focuses on three main areas: our solar system, stars and their environments (including exoplanets), and galaxies and cosmology. The research aims to answer questions such as:
- How and where did the atoms and molecules that make up our galaxy, our solar system and our planet form?
- What do they tell us about the early universe and the Big Bang?
- How do stars and planets form and evolve?
- Is our solar system special?
- How did stars and galaxies early in the universe differ from those today?
- How did they affect the evolution at later times?
Our division offers a range of possible bachelor- and master projects in astrophysics related to these fields of research. We have assembled a list of researchers able to supervise projects with a short description of their fields of research and interests. Please feel welcome to contact any or all of them to discuss possible projects.
Anish Amarsi, stellar spectroscopic models
I work on making accurate models of the light that emerges from stars like the Sun, that take into account the effects of convection in stellar atmospheres, as well as departures from local thermodynamic equilibrium. By comparing these models against real observations of stars, it is possible to infer essential properties of the stars – in particular, their chemical compositions. To a good approximation, the present-day chemical compositions of Sun-like stars reflect the compositions of the gas from which the stars formed at their respective times of birth. Thus, by studying stars of different ages and different orbits in this manner, it is also possible to learn about the history and evolution of our Galaxy and the cosmos.
I can offer projects with an emphasis on theory (understanding the physics of spectral line formation in the atmospheres of Sun-like stars), computations (developing and implementing algorithms for scientific codes; running these codes on clusters or supercomputers), and data analysis (quantitatively comparing these spectroscopic models against observational data; interpreting the results in an astrophysical context).
Oleg Kochukhov, stellar magnetic fields
Observations of the Sun demonstrate that stellar surfaces are far from being quiet, stable environments. Stars have rapidly evolving magnetic field and spots. They vary on many time scales, from minutes (pulsations) to decades (activity cycles). My research is focused on observing these phenomena and building theoretical models of stellar magnetism, variability, and activity, with important implications for stellar physics, effects on terrestrial climate, formation of planetary systems and the origin of life.
I offer a range of projects in studies of stellar variability, magnetic fields, and star spots. This work is coupled with our ongoing research using state of the art space instruments and largest ground-based optical telescopes.
Andreas Korn, stellar spectroscopy
My research focuses on low-mass stars like the Sun, in particular the outer layers from which we receive stellar photons. This starlight tells us how hot and heavy such stars are and what they are made of. As low-mass stars live for billions of years, they allow us to study the chemical history of the Milky Way. We may ultimately learn when and where the elements were produced that form the basis for complex life.
I offer various projects in quantitative stellar spectroscopy, often combining advanced modelling with observations from the largest telescopes (VLT, Keck).
Eric Stempels, Meteor observations / Space Situational Awareness (SSA)
During a dark night one often spots fast-moving objects. Some of these are caused by meteoroids entering the atmosphere, and others are due to man-made satellites. In order to understand and monitor these phenomena, several camera networks across the globe perform continuous observations of the night sky. One of these networks is the Swedish Allsky Meteor Network, active since 2015 and coordinated from Uppsala.
I offer several projects related to this network, which include studies of meteors, meteor showers and/or satellites. These projects can be adapted to individual interests, and may, among others, include instrument development, calibration, automated image analysis, and orbit determinations.
Michael Way, terrestrial planetary atmospheric modeling
The 3-D modeling of terrestrial exoplanetary atmospheres is critical to determining whether they reside in the habitable zone or not. We use knowledge about solar system atmospheres through time (Venus, Earth, Mars) to validate such models. We have successfully modeled the atmospheres of Proxima Centauri b, planets in the Trappist system and other hypothetical systems using ROCKE-3D. ROCKE-3D is an open source 3-D General Circulation Model whose development I lead. Together we can learn how models operate, their limitations, and how they can better inform us about the hypothetical atmospheres of exoplanetary worlds and even the ancient worlds of Venus, Earth and Mars in our own solar system. Previous Bachelors projects include looking at simulations of Proxima Centauri b, and the climate of a world with variable eccentricity.
Projects within space and plasma physics
We investigate what goes on in space using instruments we build ourselves and fly on spacecraft, ground based instruments, computer simulations and plasma theory. Also, we focus on the study of the basic small- and large-scale processes and fundamental physical principles which control the Earth's interaction with its space environment. Of particular interest are linear and non-linear dynamical processes involving space plasma and the associated exchange of energy, linear momentum, and angular momentum between plasma and radiation.