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Stars and star clusters

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Simon Goodwin, Paul Crowther, Stuart Littlefair, Saida Caballero-Nieves, Claire Esau, Chris Rosslowe, Andy Pollock, Dan Griffiths, Katie Tehrani, Pawel Lee, Suraiya Akter, Rebecca Arnold

Star formation

Almost all stars form in binary and multiple systems and so correctly predicting their properties in one of the best tests of star formation models. We are conducting hydrodynamic simulations of star formation using both particle- (SPH) and grid-based (AMR) methods to investigate the fragmentation of dense molecular cores, as well as the evolution of proto-planetary discs. In addition, we are investigating how binary properties are altered in star clusters in an attempt to constrain the initial binary populations.

Hot, luminous stars

Hot, luminous stars live short lives, in which they dominate the ecology of their parent galaxies via the enrichment of their interstellar medium through their intensive stellar winds, and ultimately as the progenitors of core-collapse supernovae. Wolf-Rayet stars represent the final stage of massive stars prior to core collapse, revealing bare cores exposed by previous mass-loss episodes, and are the most likely precursors to long-duration Gamma-Ray bursts. Since high-mass stars can be observed individually in nearby external galaxies, we are interested in the dependence of stellar wind properties within different metallicity environments, of application to metal-poor star-forming galaxies in the early Universe. We are also investigating the binary properties of very massive stars to provide clues as to how the most massive stars are formed.

See black hole hunters set new distance record and stars just got bigger ESO press releases.

Star clusters


Star clusters are the birth places of almost all stars. We are investigating the initial conditions and early dynamical evolution of star clusters and we have recently formulated a new model of star cluster evolution from cool, clumpy initial conditions (a movie showing the formation of a cluster from these initial conditions can be found here). We are also very interested in massive young clusters in which we can observe large samples of extremely massive stars including evolved stars in unusual evolutionary states. Such massive young clusters are found in active galaxies and we are researching how these clusters affect the properties of these galaxies and their connection with AGN.