Physics and Astronomy PhD (Solar and Stellar Physics specialism)

We are international leaders in the fields of helioseismology and asteroseismology, the study of the interior of the Sun and stars by observation of their natural modes of oscillation.
The group has three permanent academics, with observational, data analysis and theoretical expertise.

The main focus of our asteroseismology programme is the NASA Kepler mission, which was launched in 2009. Kepler is searching for Earths around other stars, and observations of oscillations in many hundreds of solar-type stars are a key part of the programme.

We lead the international consortium of over 170 scientists that is studying solar-type stars (including coordination of joint projects with the Kepler exoplanet programme), and we also have leading roles in the teams responsible for the study of red giants. In addition to Kepler, we are also actively engaged in international collaborations making use of data from other satellites (e.g., the French-led CoRoT) and ground-based telescopes (e.g., KECK).

Our solar studies are allowing crucial inferences to be drawn regarding solar and stellar evolution theory, with direct implications for fields such as fundamental particle physics and cosmology. We are providing insight into the origin and nature of the solar activity cycle (and the recent, unusual behaviour of the Sun), and the link between the deep solar interior and surface, with knock-on implications for understanding solar input to global climate change and solar-terrestrial relations.

The solar work involves use of all the world-leading datasets, such as our own BiSON network data, and data from the NASA SDO and ESA/NASA SoHo satellites and the US-run GONG network.