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Scholarship details

2024 RTP round - Monster Black Holes Across Cosmic Time

Status: Closed

Applications open: 7/07/2023
Applications close: 25/08/2023

View printable version [.pdf]

About this scholarship

Most galaxies harbour a gargantuan black hole at their centres. Occasionally these black holes become highly active, emitting powerful radio jets which are often associated with extreme rates of material being accreted. These are known as `radio galaxies’ and the most extreme examples of these occur in the early Universe when the black hole and its host galaxy are evolving rapidly. These radio galaxies are often found in dense environments with many other galaxies as members of the same `proto-cluster’. The radio jets have a strong and complex interaction with the environment of the radio galaxy.

Powerful radio galaxies represent a key stage in the evolution of the most massive black holes and their host galaxies. This project aims to improve our understanding of super-massive black holes by obtaining and combining detailed multi-wavelength observations. You will use these observations to test models of how black holes accrete and produce jets, as well as how they affect the evolution of their hosts.  In particular this project will use data from many different radio telescopes including the Murchison Widefield Array, the Australian Telescope Compact Array as well as the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder.

In order to understand these enigmatic beasts you will: 

(i) analyse and curate multi-wavelength data on a large sample of known radio galaxies in the early Universe; 
(ii) model their emission across optical to radio wavelengths in order to constrain the properties of the host galaxy (star formation rate, stellar mass, dust content) and the black hole (accretion rate, jet power, age);  
(iii) combine this information to constrain models of black hole evolution. In particular, compare radio galaxies to galactic black holes whose evolution is well studied as well as to test models based on the jet power arising from the spin of the black hole; 
(iv) search for new radio galaxies in the early Universe (particularly in the Southern Hemisphere which has been poorly studied historically) - such searches will be augmented by new optical surveys coming on line in the coming years e.g. with NASA’s Euclid mission and the Australian Skymapper survey.; 
(v) study the impact of the radio jets on their environments.

Black holes are no longer an esoteric area of study. We now know that super-massive black holes play a key role in the evolution of galaxies, hence they are important in explaining the observed state of the local Universe. This project will demonstrate the power of combining highly detailed radio observations with multi-wavelength data to reveal new knowledge about black holes. It will also demonstrate the science that the Square Kilometre Array will eventually do on a much larger scale. This project will be co-supervised by a Square Kilometre Array staff member with the possibility of conducting observations during the commissioning and scientific verification phases.

This project may provide an Internship opportunity. Potential internship at the SKA Australian headquarters based in the ARRC building on Tech Park. 

  • Future Students
  • Faculty of Science & Engineering
    • Science courses
    • Engineering courses
  • Higher Degree by Research
  • Australian Citizen
  • Australian Permanent Resident
  • New Zealand Citizen
  • Permanent Humanitarian Visa
  • Merit Based

The annual scholarship package (stipend and tuition fees) is approx. $60,000 - $70,000 p.a.

Successful HDR applicants for admission will receive a 100% fee offset for up to 4 years, stipend scholarships at the 2023 RTP rate valued at $32,250 p.a. for up to a maximum of 3 years, with a possible 6-month completion scholarship. Applicants are determined via a competitive selection process and will be notified of the scholarship outcome in November 2023. 

For detailed information, visit: Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships | Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

Scholarship Details


All applicable HDR courses

A masters or honours degree in a relevant subject (physics, astronomy, computer science). A background in astronomy with some research experience is preferred. Experience with unix/Linux and Python is preferred, but not essential. However, willingness to develop programming and data analysis skills is essential.

Application process

This project has identified a preferred candidate and is no longer available.  Please review remaining scholarships projects.

Enrolment Requirements

Eligible to enrol in a Higher Degree by Research Course at Curtin University by March 2024.

Recipients must complete their milestone 1 within 6 month of enrolment and remain enrolled on a full-time basis for the duration of the scholarship.


This project has identified a preferred candidate and is no longer available.  Please review remaining scholarships projects.

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