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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T017287/1
Title: Warped discs and the birthplace of misaligned planets
Principal Investigator: Nealon, Dr R
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
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Department: Physics
Organisation: University of Warwick
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 October 2020 Ends: 30 September 2024 Value (£): 515,275
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Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
03 Dec 2019 Stephen Hawking Fellowship Announced
21 Jan 2020 Stephen Hawking Fellowship Interview Panel 2 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Protoplanetary discs are formed by the gravitational collapse of gas and dust. They serve as the birthplace of planets, with the evolution and properties of the planet dependent on the complex interactions with its host disc. Our traditional picture of disc and planet formation suggests that the gas and dust disc orbits in approximately a single plane, similar to the planets in our solar system.

However, recent direct observational evidence suggests that this is not always the case, and indeed that misalignments may be common. Strongly misaligned broken discs show the clearest examples, where the disc is separated into an inner and outer component that can have a large misalignment. The existence of such discs and their subsequent evolution is not well understood, challenging current disc formation theories. In addition to this, although the planets in our solar system are fairly well aligned, many exoplanets have been found to have highly inclined orbits. As planets are expected to reside in these discs, understanding misaligned planets and their subsequent interaction with their host disc from a theoretical perspective is essential in order to understand planet formation.

To unravel the complicated mystery that is misaligned discs and the planets that may be hosted in these discs, I will use a combination of cutting-edge numerical techniques. First, I will use three-dimensional numerical simulations to model the formation and evolution of these misaligned discs, taking into account effects that were previously neglected (like the evolution due to shadowing). Second, I will use these simulations to create synthetic observations, which shows us what these simulations would look like if they were observed through today's telescopes. Third, I will use the comparison between the observed systems and the synthetic observations I've made to establish whether planets are ever formed misaligned to the disc and how these misaligned discs evolve. This research will be able to make predictions on both exoplanet demographics and planet-disc evolution.
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Organisation Website: http://www.warwick.ac.uk