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Scholarship details

2024 RTP round - Detecting Cosmic Web in emission using the MAGPI Survey

Status: Closed

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

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About this scholarship

The cosmic web is a filamentary structure composed of dark matter, gas and galaxies, connecting everything in our Universe. Galaxies are commonly used to illuminate the nodes (consisting of thousands of galaxies), filaments (long channels connecting galaxies and gas), and holes (maybe a single or no galaxies) within the cosmic web. Cosmological models make very specific predictions about the growth of the cosmic web throughout time. However, our understanding of the cosmic web at high redshifts remains limited due to the lack of large spectroscopic datasets covering space in-between galaxies. The data from the new Australia-led MAGPI survey on the 8-meter Very Large Telescope in Chile could revolutionise this field by detecting faint emission from gas connecting galaxy and groups of galaxies beyond the local Universe. This study will leverage the integral field spectroscopic capability of the MUSE spectrograph to systematically investigate the presence of diffuse ionised gas surrounding groups of galaxies. 

The Middle Ages Galaxy Properties with Integral field Spectroscopy (MAGPI) survey has observed 60 fields spanning a range of galaxy environments from large galaxy clusters to groups of 2-4 galaxies at z~0.3. These observations were made with the MUSE spectrograph at the Very Large Telescope in Chile. The unique wide field (1’ x 1’) integral field nature of MUSE enables us to obtain spectra not only of the target galaxies but also of everything in between and along the line of sight. The MAGPI survey has already detected >500 galaxies along the line of sight and >30 groups between 0.3<z<1.4. 
This project will harness the integral field spectroscopic capabilities of MUSE to investigate the ionised gas emission surrounding galaxies. We will create narrow band images centred around bright emission lines produced by the ionised gas such as Halpha, [OIII] and [OII] for each group identified in the MAGPI survey. The emission from the foreground and background source will either be modelled and removed or masked out. By comparing the region corresponding to gas emission with the stellar continuum, we will estimate when, where and how the diffuse ionised gas halos were built around galaxies. 

- Year 1: Develop the algorithm to detect extended ionised emission and characterise the prevalence of extended emission in AGN vs star forming, group vs field galaxies, low mass and high mass and geometry
- Year 2: Estimate the source of ionisation and baryon budget of the extended emission 
- Year 3: Compare with next-gen simulations such as COLIBRE. 

Surveys conducted using large radio telescopes such as Wallaby have successfully identified large reservoirs of hydrogen gas connecting galaxies within groups and clusters in the local Universe. Observations of Lyman-alpha emission in the early Universe have also revealed that nearly 90% of the universe is filled with low density gas. However, our understanding of the gas surrounding galaxies at the intermediate redshift, the time during which galaxies build up most of their stellar mass, remains limited. 
Future telescope such as Square Kilometre Array (SKA) are expected to push further into the redshift space. This project will serve as a crucial stepping-stone towards similar study with SKA by characterising the prevalence and density of gas surrounding groups of galaxies at higher redshifts. 


  • 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 organisation, problem-solving and project management skills. Candidates with strong quantitative skills, including familiarity with astronomy, and experience with Linux and python programming would be desirable. 

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 months 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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