Stars and Planets

The Birmingham Stars and Planets group focuses in three areas: massive stars, exoplanets, and compact objects (white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes).

Dr. Ian Stevens leads the effort to explore massive stars, combining simulations and observations of the powerful winds which are ejected from the surface of the brightest stars in our Galaxy.

Dr. Stevens is also engaged in searches for exoplanets, that is, planet around stars other than our Sun, using the slight dimming caused by planetary transits, and searching of radio emission, such as that generated in our own solar system by the magnetosphere of Jupiter.

Dr. Will Farr is an expert on dynamical modeling. He has been studying unexpected configurations of planetary systems, such as retrograde planets, and will continue to pursue secular dynamics and chaos in multi-planet systems.

Dr. Ilya Mandel, Dr. Farr, and Prof. Alberto Vecchio are very interested in compact objects, particularly black holes and neutron stars, that, when in tight binaries, can act as sources of gravitational waves for ground-based detectors. For example, we can use Galactic observations of black-hole X-ray binaries to explore the properties of black holes, investigate the evolution of isolated compact binaries with population synthesis models calibrated to Galactic observations, study Galactic binary pulsars, or explore the formation of binary black holes in globular clusters. Meanwhile, Dr. Farr and Prof. Vecchio have investigated Galactic white dwarf binaries, with a particular focus on binary tides, which could be a tool for probing white dwarf structure.