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The next decade promises to be a golden epoch for radio astronomy as several truly  revolutionary instruments on the path to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) are deployed. SKA pathfinders such as the mid-frequency ASKAP or MeerKAT telescopes and low-frequency MWA and LOFAR present opportunities for ground-breaking science.  ASKAP’s innovative phased-array feed technology allows for a wide field of view and the ability to survey the whole sky to impressive depths with unparalleled speed. Its Evolutionary Map of the Universe (EMU) survey, with complimentary Polarisation Sky Survey of the Universe’s Magnetism (POSSUM), will observe the southern sky near 1 GHz to a depth 30 times better than any existing large-area survey in continuum and polarisation, with the MWA’s GLEAMX survey providing similar sky coverage of the whole southern sky at low frequencies.

The science spans a vast range of astrophysics and cosmology, probing Milky Way-like galaxies up to z = 1, powerful starbursts to greater redshifts (z ∼ 2 − 3), AGNs to the edge of the Universe, and continuing to discover new classes of object. The combination of these multiple surveys will allow us to answer questions on galaxy formation and evolution, cosmic magnetism, and structure formation.

Possible project ideas and potential supervisors are below:

  • Resolved studies of star-forming galaxies (Ivy Wong & Tessa Vernstrom)
  • Detecting and characterising the synchrotron cosmic web (Tessa Vernstrom)
  • Radio galaxy classification with machine learning & citizen science (Ivy Wong & Tessa Vernstrom)
  • Radio galaxies in clusters and filaments (Tessa Vernstrom)
  • The evolution of magnetic fields in radio galaxies (Tessa Vernstrom)

The simulated magnetic fields and synchrotron emission of the cosmic web. The diffuse radio emission remains challenging to detect while being important for theories of the growth of large-scale structure in the Universe. Fig credit: Franco Vazza.