Mr Chris Hamilton


  • 2017-date: PhD student in Astrophysics, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics & Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge
  • 2013-2017: Masters in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics, Merton College, University of Oxford


I am a second year PhD student in the Astrophysics group at DAMTP, working with Dr Roman Rafikov.  I am interested in the dynamics of galaxies, galactic nuclei, globular clusters, binary stars, planetary systems, etc.

In the first year of my PhD I have developed a secular theory for the dynamical evolution of any binary orbiting an arbitrary axisymmetric potential.  The formalism is of interest to a theorist because it brings several separate problems into a simple unified framework.  In particular, (a) the heirarchical three-body problem, (b) Oort comets torqued by the Galactic tide, and (c) stars in nuclear clusters orbiting a supermassive black hole all arise as special cases of the general secular theory.  For astronomers our theory could also be of importance because it demonstrates that large-amplitude eccentricity oscillations typified by the Lidov-Kozai mechanism (and typically used to explain black hole mergers, blue stragglers, and hot jupiters) are in fact quite general whenever one has a wide binary orbiting an axisymmetric host system (e.g. a globular cluster).

I am also generally interested in the kinetic theory of long-range interacting systems, be they gravitational or plasma. I have applied the (gravitational) Balescu-Lenard equation to spherical stellar systems (Hamilton et al 2018, MNRAS). We argued that secular evolution of globular clusters must be strongly influenced by the presence of large scale collective modes amplified by self-gravity as opposed to two-particle (Chandrasekhar-style) scattering.


  • Michaelmas Term 2017: Part II Cosmology supervisions
  • Lent Term 2017: Part II Statistical Physics supervisions
  • Easter Term 2017: Part II Cosmology revision; Part II Statistical Physics revision
  • Michaelmas Term 2018: Part II Cosmology supervisions

Selected Publications