Professor Paul Crowther

Photo of Paul CrowtherProfessor of Astrophysics

Contact details

Personal web page

General

Summary

My research interests involve the study of the birth, life and death of the most massive stars in the universe. Such stars are rare, but dominate the ionising budget of galaxies and the energetics of young stellar populations. My primary scientific goals involve in the study of late evolutionary phases of massive stars, notably Wolf-Rayet stars. This is achieved via ultraviolet to infrared observations with large ground- and space- based telescopes (e.g. VLT, HST), plus sophisticated analysis tools. I have revised the observed stellar mass limit upwards, discovered the first super star cluster in the Milky Way and established the metallicity dependence of Wolf-Rayet winds.
I have presented 12 invited review papers at international meetings in the past 5 years, published over 150 journal papers, including a review paper in Annual Review of Astronomy & Astrophysics. My current research team involves two PhD students (Katie Tehrani, Gemma Rate) and one postdoc research associate (Dr Saida Caballero-Nieves).

Qualifications/Awards

Maths & Astronomy BSc (1986-1989, University College London)
Astrophysics PhD (1989-1993, University College London)

Academic career

PPARC postdoctoral research associate (1993-1998, University College London)
Royal Society University Research Fellow (1998-2003 UCL, 2003-2006 Sheffield)
Reader in Astrophysics (2005-2006, Sheffield)
Professor of Astrophysics (2007-, Sheffield)

Departmental administration

Director of Learning & Teaching (2012/13-2015/16)
Interim Head of Department (June 2016-Jan 2017)

University administration

Member of Senate (2011/12 - 2016/17)
Faculty Executive Board (June 2016-Jan 2017)
Faculty of Science Learning and Teaching Committee (2012/13-2015/16)

Professional activities

Member of Royal Society URF appointment panel Ai (2014+, Deputy Chair 2016+)
Member of UK E-ELT Steering Committee (2009-2016)
Organizing Committee for IAU Commission 29: Stellar Spectroscopy (2012-2015)

Member of International Astronomical Union
Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society

Research

Research Interests

Primary research interests involve the study of massive stars in a variety of environments.
Lightweight stars, like our Sun, make up the overwhelming majority of stars in our galaxy and live a long and fairly peaceful life. In contrast massive stars are very rare and live short intensive lives, after which they undergo core-collapse resulting in a supernova explosion. Massive stars play a major role in the ecology of their parent galaxies since they dominate the ionising budget of most galaxies and inject kinetic energy via stellar winds and supernovae.

My primary focus involves the study of late evolutionary phases of massive stars, notably Wolf-Rayet stars. This is achieved via ultraviolet to infrared observations of young stellar populations in the Milky Way and other nearby galaxies using large ground- and space- based telescopes (e.g. VLT, HST), plus sophisticated analysis tools. Notable highlights involve the upwards revision of the observed stellar mass limit, the discovery of the first super star cluster in the Milky Way (Westerlund 1), and establishing the metallicity dependence of Wolf-Rayet winds. Current research team involves two PhD students (Katie Tehrani, Gemma Rate) and one postdoc research associate (Saida Caballero-Nieves)

Research funding (major awards)Image of size of stars

Consolidated Grant for Sheffield Astrophysics, STFC, £1.2M (2015-2018, CoI)
Consolidated Grant for Sheffield Astrophysics, STFC, £613K (2012-2015, Co-I)
Massive Stars at early and late evolution at phases, PPARC, £155K (2006-2009, PI)
Astronomical Computing at Sheffield, PPARC, £28K (2006-2008, PI)
University Research Fellowship & Extension, Royal Society, £303K (1998-2006, PI)

Recent major telescope awards

A UV census of the sites of core-collapse supernovae, HST SNAP (Cycle 24, CoI)
The Tarantula - revealed by X-Ray's (T-ReX), Chandra, X-day Visionary Project (Cycle 15, CoI)
A massive star census of the starburst cluster R136, HST, 39 orbits (Cycles 19-20, PI)
VLT/FLAMES Tarantula Survey, VLT, Large Programme (CoI)

Teaching

Undergraduate taught modules (current)

PHY404 Star Formation & Evolution (with Prof Goodwin)

Undergraduate taught courses (recent)

PHY104 Introduction to Astrophysics (2015/16)
PHY232 The dynamic Interstellar Medium (until 2014/15)
PHY305 Stellar Atmospheres (until 2015/16)

Undergraduate projects

PHY319 Astronomy project
PHY480 Research project

Publications

Recent key publications

"The R136 star cluster dissected with HST/STIS. I Far-UV spectroscopic census and the origin of HeII 1640 in young star clusters" Crowther et al. (2016) MNRAS 458, 624

"The evolution of rotating very massive stars with LMC composition" Kohler et al. (2015) A&A 573, A71

"On the association between core-collapse supernovae and HII regions", Crowther (2013) MNRAS 428, 1927

"Evolution and fate of very massive stars" Yusof et al. (2013) MNRAS 433 1114

"The VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey. XI. A census of the hot luminous stars and their feedback in 30 Doradus" Doran et al. (2013) A&A 558, A134

Books

IAU Symposium 250: Massive Stars as Cosmic Engines (ed. Bresolin, Crowther, Puls), 2008, Cambridge University Press

From Hot Luminous Stars to Starburst Galaxies (Conti, Crowther, Leitherer), 2008, Cambridge University Press

Hot Star Workshop III: The Earliest Stages of Massive Star Birth (ed. Crowther), 2003, Astronomical Society of the Pacific

Complete publications

Co-authorship of 150+ peer reviewed journal papers, including review paper

Physical Properties of Wolf-Rayet stars, Crowther (2007), Annual Review of Astronomy & Astrophysics 45, 177

Complete list of publications is available via ADS database

Public engagement Deep Sky Videos: Lead contributor from Sheffield to YouTube channel http://www.deepskyvideos.com

Sounds of the Cosmos, Joint Director of music/science performance which premiered during Festival of the Mind 2014 and was presented at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015 and Latitude Festival 2015 http://pacrowther.staff.shef.ac.uk/sounds-cosmos.html

I have appeared on Channel 4 news, Sky TV news, BBC Radio 4 Today and the NHK (Japan) Cosmic Front documentary series. I regularly provide astronomy talks to primary and secondary schools and local amateur societies.