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GLASS is a ATCA legacy survey project that has been allocated 3000 hours over six semesters. Our goal is to image the full 50 square degrees of the G23 GAMA field at 5.5 and 9.5 GHz with the ATCA to 10s microJy/beam depths, the deepest ever survey over such a large area. We expect to detect over 13,000 radio sources and combined with the excellent multi-wavelength (UV to infrared) and spectroscopic coverage from GAMA we will be able to study active galactic nuclei (AGN) and star forming galaxies in exquisite detail.

This will be the deepest wide survey at high radio frequencies until the SKA comes online. GLASS observations are now complete and data processing is underway.

The two main science areas of the GLASS survey are around a) AGN and radio galaxies, b) radio measures of star formation.

AGN and Radio Galaxies

Within the GAMA Legacy ATCA Southern Survey (GLASS) project there are several PhD and Masters projects possible in the science area of AGN and radio galaxies to answer questions such as:
i) Why don’t all compact (i.e. young) radio sources evolve into giant radio galaxies?
ii) What is the relative fraction of ‘quasar’ vs ‘radio’ mode AGN in the nearby and distant universe, what are their physical properties, and how do these affect or feedback into their environment?
iii) Is there a population of high redshift radio AGN and how what are their properties?

Star Formation

Radio emission can also trace the star formation rate of a galaxy, and has the advantage that it is not blocked by dust (unlike UV or optical light). Radio continuum emission (at 1.4 GHz) in normal galaxies is produced by electrons accelerated by supernova, and since supernova happen when stars die the radio continuum emission is thought to be related to star formation. However a more direct tracer of SF emission in the radio may come from HII (or star forming) regions within a galaxy. This type of emission is dominant at higher radio frequencies (~10 GHz).

This PhD project aims to calibrate the radio star formation rate (which is important for future work with SKA) and decompose the radio emission into that from supernova acceleration vs HII regions, thus potentially obtaining a more reliable measure of galaxy star formation rates.


A radio galaxy in the extended Chandra Deep Field South. Green shows contours from ATCA 5.5 GHz imaging (Huynh et al. 2012) and greyscale is HST z band imaging, showing the host galaxy.



Active galactic nuclei (AGN) radio jet models (Turner and Shabala 2015)

Galaxy M82 is an example of a local galaxy under going a burst of star formation. This project will examine similar galaxies in the GLASS survey, using high frequency radio wavelengths to characterise their star formation. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, The Hubble Heritage Team, (STScI/AURA).


The spectrum of M82, from Condon 1992. The solid line shows sum of synchrotron or supernovae-induced radio emission (dot-dash line) , HII or free-free radio emission (dashed line), and dust blackbody emission (dotted line). The GLASS project aims to use HII radio emission to better understand and measure star formation in these galaxies.


Professor Lister Staveley-Smith

Director, Science (UWA)

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Dr O. Ivy Wong

Adjunct senior research fellow

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Dr Nick Seymour

Senior Lecturer

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