Modelling the formation of the Milky Way in the era of Gaia

Supervisor: Prof. Victor Debattista

A PhD project is available with the Galaxy Dynamics group lead by Dr. Victor Debattista to study the formation and evolution of the disk of the Milky Way. The project will seek to make sense of the data from the Gaia satellite, which was launched in 2013. The first data release came in September 2016. The successful applicant will learn how to run and analyse large simulations with gas and star formation to compare with observations.

Understanding the formation of galaxies — the fundamental building blocks of the universe — with their array of morphologies and scaling relations, is one of the most important problems in cosmology today. Among the questions that need to be addressed are:

  • How did the Milky Way form? How was its bulge formed? Where are stars now in relation to where they were born? How is the disk orientated relative to the halo?
  • How do stars form in the Milky Way? How can we use the ages of stars to disentangle the formation of the Milky Way? How much is this archaeological record disturbed by internal evolution and cannibalism?
  • How do supermassive black holes and nuclear clusters form and evolve?

If interested, please contact contact Dr. Debattista directly ( for more
information, or visit the Galaxy Dynamics group webpage