Photo of  Elisabeth Matthews

Elisabeth Matthews



Telephone: 01392 725518

Extension: (Streatham) 5518

I am a third year PhD student working on the direct imaging of exoplanets and debris disks, under the supervision of Dr Sasha Hinkley. We have been analysing data from several programs using the SPHERE facility at the Very Large Telescope in Chile. My research is focused predominantly on targets with strong evidence for dusty debris disks - and specifically, for evidence that there are multiple, segregated, dusty debris belts carved into these disks. The seperate belts of debris are similar to the asteroid and Kuiper belts in our own solar system. For targets with this configuration, the gravitational influence of one or several giant planets is believed to have carved out the gaps between the belts of debris. We hope to (a) find the planets clearing these gaps, (b) take scattered light images of the debris, which will allow further understanding of the disks and (c) place limits on the planets that we believe must be present within these disks so as to form the highly structured debris belt and gap systems.

I graduated from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in 2014 with a Masters degree in Natural Sciences.


  • "The unseen planets of double belt debris disc systems" - Shannon, A., Bonsor, A., Kral, Q. and Matthews, E., 2016, MNRAS, 462, L116
  • "Early Results from VLT SPHERE: Long-slit Spectroscopy of 2MASS 0122-2439 B, a Young Companion Near the Deuterium Burning Limit" - Hinkley, S., Bowler, B. P., Vigan, A. ... Matthews, E., et. al., 2015, ApJ, 805, L10

Outreach & Media

  • I am an author for, a website aiming to present scientific literature in an accessible format for undergraduate students. See my posts here.
  • Last year, I came 4th in the National Final of the IOP's 3 Minute Wonder competition - see my talk here.
  • I organised the Pint of Science 'Atoms to Galaxies' pub in 2015 & 2016, and am one of the overall Co-ordinators for Exeter Pint of Science 2017
  • Recently I was invited to give a talk for the Tiverton Astronomy Society, 2nd September 2016
  • I have had involvement with several stalls at science fairs with the University of Exeter astrophysics group, including at the Big Bang Fair South West 2015 & 2016, and have given several short (~10 minute) talks to groups of students visiting the Exeter Physics department throughout my time at the University.