Wyke A-level Physics students have recently completed ground-breaking research into the evolution of the solar system. During the summer, Eloise Buxton (former Driffield student) and Eve Ferry-Bolder (former Newland School for Girls student) conducted their research during a STEM event at the Milne Centre in the Astrophysics Department of the University of Hull.
Eve and Eloise were given a large dataset from several cosmological simulations of spiral galaxies. Eve was asked to characterise the relationship between the ages of stars and their kinematics. Eloise was asked to analyse the distribution of elemental abundance ratios (C/O and Mg/Si) which control the mineralogy of rocky planets.
Physics teacher Stuart Lyon commented, “In nature there is a loose correlation for stars near the Sun, in which old stars have higher velocity dispersion than younger ones. Something causes kinematic heating, whether it is bombardment of the disk by satellite galaxies or gravitational shocks due to spiral arms and giant molecular clouds continuously heating the disk.”
Eve was commended for showing how simulations compare with stars in nature. Eloise found that for the elemental nucleosynthesis models used in the simulations, she found rocky planets to be rich in olivine and metallic iron, with minimal pyroxene – often called ’silicon-rich Earths’ rather than truly Earth-like.
The students’ research was published and showcased during the awards ceremony at the University of Hull in September, to celebrate the CREST research event. Besides being an excellent addition to their CVs, Eve’s work received an iPad is recognition for her outstanding research.