Molecular clouds

Debris discs



Star and planet formation

How stars and planets form is one of the most fundamental problems in modern astronomy.

At Exeter, we have a strong observational programme following stars throughout their formation process. Millimetre and sub-millimetre observations tell us how the material collects in the very earliest stages of star formation. Infrared observations allow us to study the young stars, and once the dust around them clears we can use optical observations as well. Optical and infrared studies are also crucial for our studies of young stars in the early universe.

We also undertake powerful numerical simulations based on smooth particle hydrodynamics and on adaptive-mesh refinement (AMR) grid codes to investigate how stars form, the structure of their circumstellar disks, and how binaries and clusters of stars originate. Spectro-polarimetry and radiative-transfer modelling are used to probe the circumstellar flows in the late-stages of star formation. We use numerical simulations to study molecular cloud formation and star formation on galactic scales, and compare these models with large-scale millimeter surveys of molecular clouds

Research areas

Molecular clouds

Chris Brunt and Jenny Hatchell work on radio and sub-millimetre observations and theoretical properties of molecular clouds.


Matthew Bate and Gilles Chabrier work on protostar formation and collapse simulations using smoothed particle hydrodynamics and grid codes.

Cores to stars 

Jenny Hatchell, Chris Brunt and Tim Naylor use optical, infrared, sub-millimetre and radio observations to study the formation of stars.

Protoplanetary discs 

Tim Harries conducts research on the properties of accretion discs using hydrodynamics, instabilities and radiative transfer.  Stefan Kraus employs high angular-resolution imaging techniques at infrared and sub-millimeter wavelengths in order to study the structure and evolution of protoplanetary discs.

Star disc interaction

Sean Matt develops theoretical models for the interaction between magnetised young stars and their accretion discs, in order to study the flows of material and angular momentum in the stellar environment.

Debris discs

Sasha Hinkley studies discs left over from the star and planet formation processes, using some of the largest telescopes in the world.


Tim Naylor uses optical and near-IR observations of young stellar clusters to understand the evolution of young stars and their planet-forming discs.


Stefan Kraus uses high angular-resolution optical observations to explore the binarity of stars, important to constrain star formation theories.  

Current researchers


Professor Matthew Bate, Dr Chris Brunt, Professor Gilles Chabrier, Professor Tim Harries, Dr Jenny Hatchell, Professor Tim Naylor, Professor Stefan Kraus, Dr Sean Matt, Dr Sasha Hinkley, Dr Pablo Loren-Aguilar.

Post-doctorals and Fellows

Dr Alex Kreplin, Dr Tom Douglas, Dr Claire Davies, Dr Stuart Sale, Dr Narsireddy Anugu, Dr Louis Amard, Dr Dominique Meyer.


Tom Wilson, Elisabeth Matthews, Edward Hone, Sam Morrell, Alison Young, Tom Bending, Brendan Retter, Andy Wilson, Hazhar Rasull, Anna Laws, Aaron Labdon.