The Dark-side of the Milky Way

Measuring 3D kinematic distances to determine the spiral structure of the Milky Way beyond the Galactic Centre

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement



$31,500pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

Our Sun is located about 8.15 kpc from the centre of the Milky Way and the structure beyond the Galactic Centre is something about which our current knowledge is very limited. The distance an astronomical object is away from us is perhaps the single most important piece of information, but it is one of the most challenging measurements to make. Recent advances in radio astrometry with Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), have been exploited to provide trigonometric parallaxes to more than 200 star forming regions across a significant portion of the Milky Way. This project will involve the measurement of maser proper motion with very long baseline interferometry and its use, combined with Galactic rotation models and line-of-sight velocity data to derive an accurate distance for objects beyond the Galactic Centre.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Simon Ellingsen


The successful applicant will receive a scholarship which provides:

  • a living allowance stipend funded by ARC 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.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • 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.

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, Prof Simon Ellingsen 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.

Apply now Explore other projects

Why the University of Tasmania?

Worldwide reputation for research excellence

Quality supervision and support

Tasmania offers a unique study lifestyle experience