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Prof Matthew Bate

Head of Astrophysics & Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics


Telephone: 01392 725513

Extension: (Streatham) 5513

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I am currently the Head of the Astrophysics Group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Exeter.

I am best described as a numerical astrophysicist. I use computer simulations to understand the processes of star and planet formation. This involves performing self-gravitating fluid dynamical simulations, some of which also include radiation transport and magnetic fields. Many of the simulations require months and years of computer time and must be performed on some of the world's most powerful supercomputers. Currently, my simulations are performed on the University of Exeter Supercomputer, and the STFC's DiRAC facilities.

In September 2013, I was awarded a 5-year ERC Advanced Grant. In November 2005, I was awarded a 5-year EURYI (European Young Investigator) fellowship, one of only 25 awards within Europe in 2005.

Prior to my appointment at Exeter, from 1998-2001, I was a theory postdoc at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, U.K. From 1995-1998, I was a postdoc in the theory group at the MPIA in Heidelberg . I studied for my PhD at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge and received my degree in 1996. Before studying for a PhD in the United Kingdom, I completed a B.Sc.(Hons) degree in Physics at Massey University in New Zealand .

Education and Employment

  • 2005 –        Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Exeter, UK
  • 2004 – 2005 Reader in Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Exeter, UK
  • 2001 – 2004 Lecturer in Astrophysics, University of Exeter, UK
  • 1998 – 2001 Postdoctoral Research Assistant, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 1995 – 1998 Scientific Staff, Max-Planck-Institut fuer Astronomie, Germany
  • 07/1996      PhD Physics, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 05/1991      BSc (Hons) in Physics, 1st Class, Massey University, NZ
  • 05/1990      BSc in Physics and Computer Science, Massey University, NZ

Funded Research Projects

Funding for which I was the Principal Investigator:

  • ERC Advanced Grant 01/03/2014 – 31/08/2019 €1,706,418
  • STFC High Performance Computing Grant 01/11/2009 – 31/10/2012 £238,268
  • STFC Visitors’ Grant 01/04/2009 – 31/03/2012 £23,505
  • STFC Astrophysics Star Formation Grant 01/04/2008 – 31/03/2011 £945,783
  • PPARC Visitors’ Grant 01/04/2006 – 31/03/2009 £12,659
  • European Young Investigator 01/03/2006 – 28/02/2011 £882,310
  • Philip Leverhulme Prize 2003 01/05/2004 – 30/04/2006 £50,000
  • PPARC PDRA 31/03/2003 – 28/02/2006 £136,470
  • UKAFF/Leverhulme PDRA 13/01/2003 – 12/01/2006 £95,387
  • PPARC Visitors’ Grant 01/10/2002 – 30/09/2005 £12,456.26
  • Nuffield Foundation, Newly-App. Lecturer 14/03/2002 – 31/03/2004 £5,550

Funding for which I was a Co-Investigator:

  • STFC Consolidated Grant 01/04/2012 – 31/03/2015 £1,734,164
  • STFC PhD Studentships Quota 01/10/2008 – 30/09/2013 £330,113
  • PPARC Astrophysics Rolling Grant 01/04/2005 – 31/03/2008 £487,564
  • PPARC System Management Grant 01/10/2003 – 30/09/2006 £46,994
  • PPARC System Management Grant 01/10/2001 – 30/09/2003 £49,559

Facilities Usage

Facilities time for which I was the Principal Investigator:

  • "High Performance Computing Support for Exeter Astrophysics", STFC's DiRAC Facility, approx 56 million x86 compute core-hours, 01/01/2016-31/07/2018, notional value: £828,460
  • "High Performance Computing Support for Exeter Astrophysics", STFC's DiRAC Facility, 22.16 million x86 compute core-hours on the Complexity Cluster, 01/12/2012-30/11/2015, notional value: £928,000
  • During the period 2001-2007 I was awarded 14 allocations totalling 475,750 CPU-hours on the UK Astrophysical Fluids Facility (UKAFF)

In addition, from 2006-2011 I was the PI of the University of Exeter supercomputer.

Invited Presentations

Invited presentations and keynote talks at international conferences:

  • "The diversity and statistical properties of protostellar discs"; Great Barriers in Planet Formation, Palm Cove, Queensland, Australia, 21-26 July 2019
  • "Star cluster formation: structure, kinematics, and stellar properties"; Star Cluster Formation: Mapping the first few Myrs, Grenoble, France, 29-31 August 2018
  • "Formation mechanisms and statistical properties of brown dwarfs"; Formation of substellar objects: Theory and observations, ESAC, Madrid, Spain, 21-23 May 2018
  • "The origins of the statistical properties of stars"; Stars, Planets and Galaxies, Berlin, Germany, 13-18 April 2018
  • "Star formation and protostellar discs"; SPF2: Star and Planet Formation in the Southwest, Biosphere 2 Center, Oracle, Arizona, USA, 12-16 March 2018
  • "The origin and theory of the IMF"; The Initial Mass Function: From Top to Bottom, Royal Astronomical Society, London, UK, 10 November 2017
  • "Understanding the origin of the IMF"; The Universal Problem of the Non-Universal IMF, Leiden, The Netherlands, 5-9 December 2016
  • "Combining a diffuse ISM model & radiative transfer to model star cluster formation"; From Stars to Massive Stars, Gainesville, Florida, USA, 5-9 April 2016
  • "Radiation hydrodynamical modelling of star and planet formation"; Wetton Workshop 2015: Realising the Astronomy of the Future II: Simulating the Universe, Oxford, UK, 13-14 April 2015
  • "Origins of the statistical properties of binary stars"; Living together: Planets, stellar binaries, and stars with planets, Litomysl, Czech Republic, 8-12 September 2014
  • "Collapse of molecular clouds and the IMF"; Physical processes in the ISM, MPE Garching, Germany, 21-25 October 2013
  • "Star cluster formation and feedback"; Review talk at Protostars and Planets VI, Heidelberg, Germany, 14-20 July 2013
  • "The roles of thermal feedback and magnetic fields in sub-GMC star formation"; Mind the gap: from microphysics to large-scale structure in the Universe, Cambridge, UK, 8-12 July 2013
  • "Brown dwarf formation in clusters"; 50 Years of Brown Dwarfs, Ringberg, Germany, 21-24 October 2012
  • "Molecular cloud cores – Life and collapse: Theory"; The Early Phase of Star Formation, Ringberg, Germany, 1-6 July 2012
  • "The formation and properties of stars and brown dwarfs"; The Origins of Stars and their Planetary Systems, Hamilton, Canada, 10-15 June 2012
  • "From prestellar cores to stellar systems: fragmentation, properties and multiplicity of protostars – Theory"; Formation and Early Evolution of Very Low Mass Stars and Brown Dwarfs, ESO Garching, Germany, 11-14 October 2011
  • "The Earliest Phases of Star Formation"; Astronomy with Radioactivities VII, Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia, 1-3 March 2011
  • "Dependence of star formation on initial conditions and molecular cloud structure"; IAU Symposium 270: Computational Star Formation, Barcelona, Spain, 31 May-4 June 2010
  • "Star Cluster Formation and the Origin of Stellar Properties"; From Stars to Galaxies, Gainesville, Florida, USA, 7-10 April 2010
  • "Radiation magnetohydrodynamical modelling of star cluster formation"; Mulitphase Interstellar Medium and Dynamics of Star Formation, Nagoya, Japan, 27 February-3 March 2010
  • Recipes for Making Brownies: Theory vs Observations, ESA/ESTEC, Netherlands, 9-11 September 2009
  • "Radiation Hydrodynamical Simulations of a Protoplanet Embedded in a Circumstellar Disc"; Angular Momentum Transport and Energy Release in Accretion Discs, Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, UK, 7-8 September 2009
  • "Stellar and Brown Dwarf Properties from Numerical Simulations"; IAU General Assembly XXVII, Special Session 7: Young Stars, Brown Dwarfs and Protoplanetary Disks, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 11-14 August 2009
  • "Physics and Modes of Star Cluster Formation"; IAU 266: Star Clusters, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 10-14 August 2009
  • "Radiation Magnetohydrodynamics Simulations of Star Formation"; ASTRONUM 2009, Chamonix, France, 29 June – 3 July 2009
  • Conference summary talk, CONSTELLATION School on Numerical Astrophysics and its Role in Star Formation, Cardiff, UK, 19-23 January 2009
  • "MHD SPH Simulations of Cluster Formation"; Star Formation, Then and Now, Santa Barbara, California, USA, 13-17 August 2007
  • "Binary Properties from Hydrodynamical Simulations of Star Cluster Formation"; Multiplicity in Star Formation, Toronto, Canada, 16-18 May 2007
  • "Numerical Simulations of Star Cluster Formation"; From Stars to Planets, Gainesville, Florida, USA, 11-14 April 2007
  • "New Hydrodynamical Simulations of Star Cluster Formation"; Early Phase of Star Formation, Ringberg, Germany, 28 August -1 September 2006
  • "The Challenge of Modelling Star Formation"; Trends in Mathematics for Applications; Oslo, Norway, 19-20 June 2006
  • "Present Day Star Cluster Formation"; After the First Stars; Nottingham, United Kingdom, 15-16 June 2005
  • "Modelling Stellar Clusters Embedded in Gas"; Grand Challenge Problems in Computational Astrophysics, Workshop II: N-body Problems in Astrophysics, Los Angeles, USA, 18-22 April 2005
  • "Star Formation, Fragmentation, and Protoplanets in Discs"; Grand Challenge Problems in Computational Astrophysics, Workshop I: Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics, Los Angeles, USA, 4-9 April 2005
  • "The Brown Dwarf-Planet Relation"; Ringberg Workshop on Planet Formation: Theory meets Observation; Ringberg, Germany, 19-22 December 2004
  • "Numerical Simulations of the Formation of Brown Dwarfs"; Low-mass Stars and Brown Dwarfs: IMF, Accretion and Activity; Volterra, Italy, 17-20 October 2004
  • "Star Formation: Hydrodynamics and Radiation Hydrodynamics"; Frontiers in Computational Astrophysics; Wengen, Switzerland, 26-29 September 2004
  • "The Dependence of the IMF on Initial Conditions"; IMF@50: The Initial Mass Function 50 years later; Siena, Italy, 16-20 May 2004
  • "Understanding the Formation of Stars and Brown Dwarfs"; Gravitational Collapse: From Massive Stars to Planets; Ensenada, Mexico, 8-12 December 2003
  • "Cluster Formation via Turbulent Fragmentation"; Young Massive Star Clusters; Cancun, Mexico, 17-21 November 2003
  • "Understanding Star Formation"; Computational Fluid Dynamics in Astrophysics; Leicester, UK, 1-5 September 2003
  • "Theory of Young Clusters"; IAU Symposium 211: Star Formation at High Angular Resolution; Sydney, Australia, 22-25 July 2003
  • "Large-scale Simulations of Star Formation"; MODEST-3; Melbourne, Australia, 9-11 July 2003
  • "From Molecular Cores to Stars and Brown Dwarfs; Magnetic Fields and Star Formation: Theory versus Observations; Madrid, Spain, 21-25 April 2003
  • "The Formation of Binary and Multiple Stars in Clusters"; The Environment and Evolution of Binary and Multiple Stars, IAU Colloquium 191; Merida, Mexico, 3-7 February 2003
  • "The Formation of Stars, Brown Dwarfs and Planets"; Computational Fluid Dynamics in Astrophysics; Leicester, UK, 3-7 September 2001
  • "Accretion and the Properties of Protobinary Systems"; The Formation of Binary Stars, IAU Symposium 200; Potsdam, Germany, 10-15 April 2000
  • "Dynamical Fragmentation and the Formation of Protobinaries"; From Darkness to Light: Origin and Early Evolution of Young Stellar Clusters; Cargese, Corsica, 3-8 April 2000
  • "Using the Surface Density of Companions to Analyse Star Forming Regions"; The Orion Complex Revisited; Ringberg, Germany, 2-6 June 1997

Contributions to the Community

Panel and Committee Work

  • STFC DiRAC Project Board Member 11/2011 – present
  • Royal Society's International Exchanges Panel Member 01/2013 – 12/2015
  • STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellowship Panel Member 10/2011 – 01/2012
  • Hubble Space Telescope Cycle 17 TAC Panel Member 05/2008
  • PPARC Rolling Grant Visiting Panel Member 09/2006
  • PPARC Fellowships Panel Member 12/2005 – 01/2006
  • PPARC Education, Training and Careers Committee (ETCC) Member 10/2004 – 09/2006
  • United Kingdom Astrophysical Fluids Facility (UKAFF) Time Allocation Committee: Chairperson 11/2003 – 12/2007
  • United Kingdom Astrophysical Fluids Facility (UKAFF) Time Allocation Committee: Member 11/2002 – 10/2003

Scientific Organising Committees (SOC)

Outreach (2009 - )

  • Talk at the Cornish Institute of Engineers, Camborne, 01/03/2012
  • Talk and observing at Stargazing Live!, Queen Elizabeth Community College, Crediton, 16/01/2012
  • Talk at the Exeter Astrophysics Open Evening, 04/05/2010
  • Talk at the Tiverton and Mid-Devon Astronomy Society, 15/01/2010
  • Advised the BBC on how to describe and portray star formation in "Wonders of the Solar System", 04/2009
  • Talk and observing at the Exeter Astrophysics International Year of Astronomy Open Evening, 01/04/2009


I am a member of the American Astronomical Society (since 1994).


  • 2013 European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant
  • 2005 European Young Investigator Award (EUYRI)
  • 2003 Philip Leverhulme Prize