Magnetohydrodynamic simulations of supermassive black hole jets

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

Accretion of matter onto supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies releases the most energetic outbursts in the Universe. Resultant jets of synchrotron-emitting plasma, visible to radio telescopes, burrow through the surrounding gas. This gas is the raw fuel from which stars are made, and by imparting some of their energy to it the black hole jets are known to regulate the star formation history of the most massive galaxies.

Much is unknown about the processes responsible for triggering and propagation of black hole jets. On the other hand, current and upcoming surveys with leading international telescopes (Square Kilometre Array pathfinder instruments, including ASKAP and MWA in Australia – and eventually the SKA itself) will study these objects in unprecedented detail across a wide range of radio frequencies. The aim of this project is to construct an equally sophisticated theoretical framework to interpret these data.

This project will use highly parallel High Performance Computing (HPC) magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) numerical simulations of relativistic jets, together with a state-of-the-art model for calculating the resultant synchrotron emission, to predict detailed radio synchrotron emission and polarization signatures of these jets throughout their lifecycle. Comparison of simulation predictions with data from SKA pathfinders will constrain the mechanisms responsible for the onset and cessation of jet activity, and help to guide development of future observing strategies.

This project will be performed in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Hertfordshire, International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), CSIRO, and the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON).

Primary Supervisor

Meet A/Prof Stas Shabala


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements and the following additional eligibility criteria specific to this project:

  • Applications are open to applicants with an Honours or Masters degree in physics, astronomy, or a closely related area

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Honours or Masters degree in physics, astronomy, or a closely related area
  • Capacity for critical thinking and quantitative problem solving
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a team

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience in High Performance Computing, computational fluid dynamics, Python or C coding, and/or radio astronomy

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, A/Prof Stas Shabala, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including contact details of two referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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