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Project area/S

  • Extragalactic Radio Science

Project Details

Understanding galaxy formation and evolution across cosmic time is both a fundamental topic in astrophysics and a key sci-ence driver for the forthcoming Square Kilometre Array (SKA). Because their emitted light must travel huge distances to reach the Earth, very distant radio galaxies (high-redshift radio galax-ies or HzRGs) are an important window into the Universe’s past; we observe these galaxies how they looked like over 10 billion years ago! In particular, HzRGs are luminous beacons for inves-tigating how the most massive galaxies and their powerful black holes formed in the early Universe.

You will utilise a newly developed technique to find HzRGs in the small number of deep survey fields which have a wealth of public data. You will start with data from radio surveys to find HzRG candidates, then use the deep optical imaging to identify their host galaxies. You will then use all available literature data to estimate their distance (whether they are very distant) and their host galaxy properties including star-formation rate, galaxy mass, black hole mass, black hole accretion rate and the radio jet power. With this sample you will compare these properties to optically selected galaxies with powerful black holes in the ear-lier Universe.

Student Attributes

Academic Background

Physics undergraduate, some astronomy background preferred.

Computing Skills
Some programming will be required, Python is the preferred language, but others are acceptable.

Training Requirement
LaTeX, use of topcat and ds9, plus some python.

Project Timeline

  • Week 1 Inductions and project introduction. Background reading and selection of target HzRGs.
  • Week 2 Initial presentation. Finalisation of target HzRGs, preliminary examination of the deep optical images.
  • Week 3 Manual identification of host galaxies.
  • Week 4 Literature search on all the host galaxies, in particular checking for spectroscopic redshifts.
  • Week 5 Determining photometric redshifts for galaxies without spectroscopic redshifts.
  • Week 6 Determining host galaxies properties.
  • Week 7 Determining properties of the central black holes.
  • Week 8 Comparison of final sample with optically selected high-redshift galaxies and black holes. Writing presentation.
  • Week 9 Final presentation. Writing report.
  • Week 10 Final report. Writing report.


Dr Jess Broderick

Senior Research Fellow

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