James Miley


Born and raised in Hitchin, Hertforshire, I’ve always had a passion for science and moved to Leeds in 2012 where I studied for an MPhys in Physics with Astrophyics. My Masters thesis was completed in the astrophysics group and focused on classifying the morphology of ultracompact HII regions – signposts for massive star formation –  using observations from the Very Large Array radio observatory. I began studying for my PhD in Leeds in 2016 working with Dr. Olja Panić. 


Research interests

I’m in the final year of my PhD studying protoplanetary discs. Protoplanetary discs are circumstellar discs of gas and dust that act as both the natal material from which an exoplanet can grow, and also the medium in which embedded planets leave their observable signatures for us to decode.

I primarily use observations from the Atacama Large Millimetre/sub-millimetre Array (ALMA, http://www.almaobservatory.org/en/home/), a state-of-the-art interferometer that has led to a new era in studies of star and planet formation as a result of its unprecedented resolution and sensitivity at millimetre and sub-millimetre wavelengths. At these wavelengths our data allows us to peek into the coldest parts of the disc, including the dense mid-plane where gas giant planets will go on to form. My work combines observational results with modelling from numerical codes to characterise the physical structure of individual discs and to draw broader conclusions that inform our current understanding of disc evolution. Recently I have started investigating the impact that the evolution of the host star has on the composition of its disc and how this varies for different spectral types of star. Giant planets that form in the disc will accrete more material from their local environment as they orbit, and so the evolving disc properties have consequences for types of planet that can form there. 


  • MPHYS Physics with Astrophysics (University of Leeds) 2012-2016

Research groups and institutes

  • Astrophysics