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Project area/S

  • Extragalactic Radio Science

Project Details

During a recent observation with the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa, a serendipitous discovery was made of a new galaxy group, with the neutral star-forming fuel content of over 40 galaxies detected for the first time. These galaxies offer a new testbed for galaxy interaction studies, which are fundamental aspects in understanding galaxy formation and evolution, and how it impacts star formation.
The student will work with the neutral hydrogen (HI) subcubes of a subset of these galaxies and perform mass modelling for the first time, combined with optical imaging and corresponding stellar information. In doing so, they will determine the dark matter content of each galaxy. They will also investigate whether there is any trend between asymmetry in the HI spectra and distribution, and the galaxy morphology and whether it is undergoing an interaction with neighbouring members of the group. It is possible that by the time this project starts, even further MeerKAT follow-up observations will be available to work with, adding to the number of galaxies already discovered.

Student Attributes

Academic Background

Physics; some astrophysics (preferred but not necessary)

Computing Skills
Some experience in coding, e.g. in Python (preferred but not necessary)

Training Requirement
Latex, accessing and working with supercomputers (e.g. Pawsey)

Project Timeline

  • Week 1 Inductions and project introduction
  • Week 2 Initial Presentation
  • Week 3 Learning basics of matter content of galaxies, focus on HI and data reduction
  • Week 4 Creating HI moment maps and spectra, analysis of each galaxy
  • Week 5 Combining stellar information with the hydrogen gas content
  • Week 6 Learning to use 3DBarolo to model galaxies matter con-tent
  • Week 7 Creating rotation curves for all galaxies in the sample and modelling the mass content
  • Week 8 Investigating trends between mass content, asymmetry and distance to nearby galaxies/other attributes
  • Week 9 Final Presentation
  • Week 10 Final Report
Optical image of a galaxy in the group overlaid with HI contours

An optical image of a galaxy in the group overlaid with the HI contours from MeerKAT


Dr Clancy James

Senior Research Fellow

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