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 developed a secular theory for the dynamical evolution of any binary orbiting an arbitrary axisymmetric potential (Hamilton & Rafikov 2019a,b).  The formalism is of interest to a theorist because it brings several separate problems into a simple unified framework, including the hierarchical three-body problem and the problem of Oort comets torqued by the Galactic tide.  The theory may also be of importance for astronomers 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).  My current work involves using this formalism to predict the rate of compact object (black hole/neutron star) binary mergers in the local universe detectable with gravitational wave experiments such as LIGO.

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 2018: Part II Statistical Physics supervisions
  • Easter Term 2018: Part II Cosmology revision; Part II Statistical Physics revision
  • Michaelmas Term 2018: Part II Cosmology supervisions
  • Easter Term 2019: Part II Cosmology revision

Selected Publications