Institute for Astronomy

Solar System PhD Projects

PhD Research Projects on offer in our Solar System Group:

The origin of radicals in the coma of comets

Cyrielle Opitom

Video: Cyrielle
PhD Project 2022

Comets are pristine relics of the protoplanetary disk, where the planets formed and evolved, and preserve in their nucleus important clues about the conditions prevailing in the early solar system. When a comet approaches the Sun, the nuclear ices sublimate to form a huge atmosphere of gas and dust around the nucleus called the coma. By observing the coma of comets, we can probe the content of the nucleus ices. However, it has been a long-standing problem to link the molecules observed at optical wavelengths in the coma back to the ice abundances in the nucleus. A key step towards solving this problem can be achieved using the MUSE integral field spectrograph, mounted on the Very Large Telescope in Chile.  MUSE is capable of providing simultaneous maps of several gas species and the dust in the coma of comets. The comparison of those maps then provides clues about the release mechanisms of the gas species observed. The goal of this project is to analyse a sample of comets observed with the MUSE instrument to decipher the origin of the radicals observed in the coma of comets.

Under the Astronomical Instrumentation PhD projects see also: