Feedback from black hole jets

The role of supermassive black hole jets in the cosmic gas cycle

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


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.

Despite being a crucial ingredient in the galaxy formation paradigm, mechanisms through which jets regulate galaxy growth are still under debate. This project will use highly parallel High Performance Computing (HPC) hydrodynamic numerical simulations of relativistic jets to quantify how much feedback the jets impart on the surrounding gas. These results will be used to test and ultimately improve the simpler prescriptions routinely used in large-scale cosmological galaxy formation models, which do not have sufficient resolution to faithfully represent the jet feedback process.

The successful candidate will also use a state-of-the-art model for calculating the jet synchrotron emission, observable with radio telescopes. Simulated jets will be compared with observations from leading international telescopes, including Australian and international Square Kilometre Array pathfinder instruments ASKAP, MWA and LOFAR, to determine the relationship between observable radio emission and feedback imparted on intergalactic gas.

This project will be performed in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Hertfordshire (UK), 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 $31,500 per annum (2023 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.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Applicants from the following disciplines are encouraged to apply:

  • 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:

  • 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 any of: High Performance Computing, computational fluid dynamics, Python or C coding, radio astronomy

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, A/Prof Stas Shabala to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. 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 2 x 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 by the advertised outcome date.

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