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Professor Cathie Clarke, of the Institute of Astronomy, has been recognised for her work in theoretical astrophysics.

Professor Cathie Clarke has been awarded the 2017 Eddington Medal in Astronomy by the Royal Astronomical Society.

The Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics was the first to demonstrate how a young star’s radiation field controls the evolution of the surrounding protoplanetary disc for the low-mass stars that constitute the bulk of the Milky Way Galaxy. This process removes material from the disc, eventually terminating the formation of planets, and is now deemed integral to all models of planet formation and migration.

She has also demonstrated the importance of the effects of energetic radiation from nearby young stars on the disc, and how it can deplete the disc material from outside-in. Her work addresses the physics of such photoevaporation through the development of analytic solutions and hydrodynamical simulations, and she also explores the potential observational consequences of the theoretical models. Her results have relevance for not just the interpretation of new submillimetre data on such discs, but also for the flourishing science of exoplanet discovery and characterisation.

In addition to her research in disc photoevaporation, Professor Clarke is also well known for her work on the role of self-gravity in disc evolution and on the formation of brown dwarfs in unstable multiple systems.

Date awarded

13 January 2017

Subjects

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Professor Cathie Clarke