Simulations of black hole jets

Magnetohydrodynamic simulations of supermassive black hole jets

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

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 in the host galaxy and larger-scale galaxy cluster. 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 as they interact with the surrounding galactic and intergalactic gas. 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 $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.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


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

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applications are open to applicants with an Honours or Masters degree in physics, astronomy, or a closely related area
  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

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

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact A/Prof Stas Shabala to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • 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.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the 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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