Investigating Wolf-Rayet Stars as supernova progenitors

Supervisor: Dr Joanne Pledger

Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars are massive stars that have evolved off the main sequence. Their strong stellar winds result in a unique emission line spectrum which can be exploited to detect these stars beyond the Local Group. These stars play an important role in the chemical enrichment of the interstellar medium via their mass loss from stellar winds and ultimate death as core-collapse supernovae. However, their role are supernova progenitors is poorly understood.

Various projects investigating the role of WR stars as supernova progenitors are available. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Photometric and Spectroscopic Survey of nearby galaxies to identify quantify the WR content
  • Study of the host environments of WR stars including metallicity and surface brightness
  • Investigating the distribution of the WR stars within a number of different galaxies as a function of metallicity and subtype
  • Investigating the detectability of WR stars as a function of spatial resolution.

All of these areas will crucially compare observations with predictions from stellar evolutionary theory and will utilise date from INT, Gemini, VLT, and HST.

If interested in this or similar projects, please contact Dr Joanne Pledger ( for more information.