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Scholarship details

2024 RTP round - Understanding the host galaxies of fast radio bursts

Status: Closed

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

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About this scholarship

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are extremely powerful radio transients, so luminous they are visible across the Universe, which occur within mere milliseconds. FRBs have been detected in distant galaxies and used to find the previously ‘missing baryons’ in the Universe. Yet, to date only a handful of FRBs have been localised, and the origin of FRBs is not yet known.

To best address this, we need to better understand the host galaxies FRBs reside in, through localisation of their radio signal. The Curtin Institute for Radio Astronomy (CIRA) is a member of the Commensal Real-time ASKAP Fast Transients Survey (CRAFT) with the Australia Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP). By localising the FRB emission to within an arcsecond on the sky, we can identify the host galaxies, and CRAFT is expected to localise ~1 FRB every two days through the CRAFT COherent (CRACO) upgrade currently under commissioning. We hence will have a large catalogue of host galaxies to analyse and follow-up with multiwavelength data. 

The project aims to study the host galaxies of FRBs identified by the CRAFT survey, and additionally any other localised FRB from other FRB projects and identify the possible progenitor(s) of the FRB signal. Through the data reduction and analysis of commensal and follow-up radio spectral-line observations of FRB host galaxies from multiple radio telescopes both in Australia and abroad, the first statistically meaningful study of the FRB host galaxy gas properties will be conducted. These results on cold neutral gas in galaxies will be then combined with novel high-time resolution data to study the hot ionised gas component of galaxies uniquely probed by FRBs. Comparison with a sample selected from hydrodynamical galaxy simulations will extend the work and test galaxy evolution models using the new FRB data and follow-up spectral-line detections. 

- Analyse existing radio and other multiwavelength information of FRB host galaxies
- Analyse new high-time resolution data of the FRB emission uniquely available to CRAFT to combine with our knowledge of the host galaxy to understand the medium the FRB signal propagates through
- Conduct new observations and data reduction to study the neutral hydrogen, the star-forming fuel, of these host galaxies to inform models on the creation of FRB progenitors
- Combine the properties of the hot ionised gas in galaxies with the cold neutral gas to form a complete picture of FRB host galaxies
- Analyse hydrodynamical galaxy simulations and link the populations in these simulations to our observed sample of FRB host galaxies 

FRBs are a newly discovered phenomenon that are still not well understood. The FRB field has major discoveries each year, with over 350 publications made in 2022. CRAFT is a world leader in FRB localisations on the sub-arcsecond scale and poised to drastically increase the output of FRB localisations with novel 3 nanosecond resolution data to 100s a year. The CRAFT team has authored two Nature and two Science publications on FRB research, with another Science paper pending editor approval. A key paper this project will build upon was the subject of a press release led by CSIRO and will establish the first statistical sample of the gas within the host galaxies of FRBs to place constraints on FRB progenitor models. 

  • 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

We are looking for a self-motivated PhD candidate with excellent problem-solving skills and a willingness to learn and work with various radio astronomy datasets. Some programming experience is preferred. Must be eligible to enrol in PhD programs at Curtin. As the FRB field is rapidly changing; the student should be prepared to adapt their research. 

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.


The Project lead has identified a preferred candidate and is no longer accepting applications. Please click here to review remaining scholarships projects.

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