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This artist’s impression depicts a rapidly spinning supermassive black hole surrounded by an accretion disc. This thin disc of rotating material consists of the leftovers of a Sun-like star which was ripped apart by the tidal forces of the black hole. Shocks in the colliding debris as well as heat generated in accretion led to a burst of light, resembling a supernova explosion. Credit: ESO, ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser

This artist’s impression depicts a rapidly spinning supermassive black hole surrounded by an accretion disc. This thin disc of rotating material consists of the leftovers of a Sun-like star which was ripped apart by the tidal forces of the black hole. Shocks in the colliding debris as well as heat generated in accretion led to a burst of light, resembling a supernova explosion. Credit: ESO, ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a next-generation radio telescope that will allow us to detect sources with very faint radio emission. This includes ‘radio-quiet’ quasars (RQQs), which are supermassive black-holes that accrete material very efficiently and produce low levels of radio emission. These black-holes reside in host galaxies, whose star-formation processes are thought to be the origin of this emission. However, black-hole accretion also produces radio emission, and recent work argues that this process actually dominates the emission in RQQs.

In this project we will investigate the significance of this accretion component, in terms of its fraction of the total emission across all faint radio sources (i.e. normal star-forming galaxies, without an accreting black-hole at the centre, in addition to RQQs). This is crucial research, as it is currently expected that the total radio emission of such sources can be used to determine the star-formation history of the Universe. For this work, Python scripts are already in place but will require some editing before they can be run over a new, deeper radio image. A fairly straight-forward paper should result, with the student as a co-author. Please email Sarah White if you have any questions.

Pdf Project Description and Timeline

Co-Supervisors

Dr Nick Seymour

Senior Lecturer

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