Professor Paul Crowther

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Head of Department

Professor of Astrophysics

Professor Paul Crowther
paul.crowther@sheffield.ac.uk
+44 114 22 24291

Full contact details

Professor Paul Crowther
Department of Physics and Astronomy
F09a
Hicks Building
Hounsfield Road
Sheffield
S3 7RH
Profile

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 six invited review papers at international meetings in the past five years, published over 170 journal papers including a review paper in Annual Review of Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Career history

  • 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)
Qualifications
  • Maths & Astronomy BSc (1986-1989, University College London)
  • Astrophysics PhD (1989-1993, University College London)
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. My current research team involves PhD student Gemma Rate and RA Joachim Bestenlehner.

Publications

Show: Featured publications All publications

Journal articles

All publications

Books

Journal articles

Chapters

  • Levan A, Crowther P, de Grijs R, Langer N, Xu D & Yoon S-C (2016) Gamma-Ray Burst Progenitors, Gamma-Ray Bursts (pp. 35-80). Springer Netherlands RIS download Bibtex download

Conference proceedings papers

  • Crowther PA (2016) Wolf-Rayet content of the Milky Way. Wolf-Rayet Stars : Proceedings of an International Workshop held in Potsdam, Germany, 1.–5. June 2015 View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Rosslowe CK & Crowther PA (2014) Westerlund 1 is a Galactic Treasure Chest: The Wolf-Rayet Stars. Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, Vol. 9(S307) (pp 135-136) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Miszalski B, Crowther PA, De Marco O, Koeppen J, Moffat AFJ, Acker A & Hillwig TC (2013) IC 4663: The First Unambiguous [WN] Wolf-Rayet Central Star of a Planetary Nebula. 18TH EUROPEAN WHITE DWARF WORKSHOP, Vol. 469 (pp 281-+) View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Bibby JL, Shara MM, Crowther PA & Moffat AFJ (2012) Searching for Woff-Rayet Stars Beyond the Local Group. FOUR DECADES OF RESEARCH ON MASSIVE STARS, Vol. 465 (pp 478-+) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Vink JS, Heger A, Krumholz MR, Puls J, Banerjee S, Castro N, Chen K-J, Chenè A-N, Crowther PA, Daminelli A , Gräfener G et al (2012) Very Massive Stars in the local Universe. Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, Vol. 10(H16) (pp 51-79) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Martins F, Bergemann M, Bestenlehner JM, Crowther PA, Hamann WR, Najarro F, Nieva MF, Przybilla N, Freimanis J, Hou W & Kaper L (2012) SpS5 - II. Stellar and wind parameters. Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, Vol. 10(H16) (pp 420-428) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Crowther PA, Hirschi R, Walborn NR & Yusof N (2012) Very Massive Stars and the Eddington Limit. FOUR DECADES OF RESEARCH ON MASSIVE STARS, Vol. 465 (pp 196-+) RIS download Bibtex download
  • de Koter A, Sana H, Evans CJ, Bagnoli T, Bastian N, Bestenlehner JM, Bonanos A, Bressert E, Brott I, Cantiello M , Carraro G et al (2011) The O stars in the VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, Vol. 328 (pp 012022-012022) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Lennon DJ, Evans CJ, Bastian N, Beletsky Y, Brott I, Cantiello M, Carraro G, Simon Clark J, Crowther PA, De Koter A , De Mink SE et al (2011) The VLT-FLAMES Tarantula survey. Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, Vol. 6(S272) (pp 296-297) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Chené AN, Schnurr O, Crowther PA, Lajus EF & Moffat AFJ (2011) Very massive binaries in R136. Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, Vol. 6(S272) (pp 497-498) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Yusof N, Kassim HA, Hirschi R, Crowther PA, Schnurr O, Parker RJ & Goodwin SP (2010) Life and death of very massive stars. Proceedings of Science RIS download Bibtex download
  • Crowther PA (2010) Hot Massive Stars: The Impact of HST. IMPACT OF HST ON EUROPEAN ASTRONOMY (pp 3-10) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Moll SL, de Grijs R, Mengel S, Smith LJ & Crowther PA (2009) Dynamical mass estimates of young massive clusters in NGC1140 and M83. ASTROPHYSICS AND SPACE SCIENCE, Vol. 324(2-4) (pp 177-182) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Crowther PA (2008) Physical and wind properties of [WC] stars. HYDROGEN-DEFICIENT STARS, Vol. 391 (pp 83-93) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Crowther P & Smartt S (2007) Core-collapse supernovae and their massive progenitors. Astronomy & Geophysics, Vol. 48(1) (pp 1.35-1.38) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Foellmi C, Marchenko SV, Moffat AFJ, Crowther PA & Brillant S (2007) LMC-BAT129: Revealing the structure of a Wolf-Rayet wind. MASSIVE STARS IN INTERACTING BINARIES, Vol. 367 (pp 431-+) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Crowther PA & Clark JS (2007) IC10 x-1 (WN+cc). Massive Stars in Interacting Binaries, Vol. 367 (pp 499-504) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Crowther PA (2006) Observed metallicity dependence of winds from WR stars. Stellar Evolution at Low Metallicity: Mass Loss, Explosions, Cosmology, Vol. 353 (pp 157-170) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Hadfield LJ & Crowther PA (2006) How extreme are the WR clusters in NGC 3125?. Stellar Evolution at Low Metallicity: Mass Loss, Explosions, Cosmology, Vol. 353 (pp 247-250) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Crowther PA (2006) Properties of hot, massive stars: The impact of FUSE. Astrophysics in the Far Ultraviolet: Five Years of Discovery with FUSE, Vol. 348 (pp 107-117) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Leitherer C, Crowther P, Eenens P, Fullerton A, Koenigsberger G, Massey P, Meynet G, Moffat T, Owocki S & Puls J (2005) Working Group on Massive Stars. Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, Vol. 1(T26A) (pp 233-235) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Crowther PA, Hadfield LJ, Schild H & Schmutz W (2005) The disk Wolf-Rayet population of the nuclear starburst galaxy M83. Starbursts: From 30 Doradus to Lyman Break Galaxies, Vol. 329 (pp 21-25) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Crowther PA (2004) Fundamental parameters of massive stars. EAS Publications Series, Vol. 13 (pp 1-20) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Crowther PA (2004) Massive stars in transition. EAS Publications Series, Vol. 13 (pp 119-140) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Crowther P (2003) Summary of the RAS NAM Discussion Meeting on Massive Stars. Observatory, Vol. 123(1176) (pp 280-282) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Smith LJ, Norris RPF & Crowther PA (2002) . Astrophysics and Space Science, Vol. 281(1/2) (pp 215-216) RIS download Bibtex download
Grants
  • Consolidated grant for Sheffield astrophysics, STFC, £1.0m (2018-2021, Col)
  • 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 activities

Undergraduate taught modules (current)

  • PHY104 Introduction to Astrophysics
  • PHY404 Star Formation & Evolution                          

Undergraduate taught courses (recent)

  • PHY232 The Dynamic Interstellar Medium (until 2014/15)
  • PHY305 Stellar Atmospheres (until 2015/16)

Undergraduate projects

  • PHY319 Astronomy project
  • PHY480 Research project
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
  • Member of the Institute of Physics

Departmental administration

  • Head of Department (June 2016-Jan 2017, Jan 2018 - present)
  • Director of Learning & Teaching (2012/13-2015/16)

University administration

  • Faculty Executive Board (June 2016-Jan 2017, Jan 2018 - present)
  • Member of Senate (2012/13 - 2015/16, 2017/18 -)
  • Space Management Group (2020-)

Public engagement

Deep Sky Videos: Lead contributor from Sheffield to YouTube channel – 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 – 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.