The interstellar lifecycle

Tracing the earliest stages of the interstellar lifecycle

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

The StarFISH legacy survey from the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) provides a rich and sensitive census of molecular emission in the 7mm wavelength band towards the southern Galactic Plane. This unique dataset will be used to provide new insights into some of the most important current questions in the field of Galactic astronomy - how do the largest stars form? In particular, the complete survey of emission in the CS (1-0) transition, which traces dense molecular gas will be used to measure the clump-mass function, for comparison and understanding of the origin of the initial mass function. Comparison of the CS emission with data from other Galactic surveys and that from other molecules observed as part of StarFISH will be used to identify regions at different evolutionary stages and in particular to identify molecular clumps which are in the pre-stellar phase. These regions are short-lived (hence rare) and have proven hard to reliably identify. The results of this project will be critical for targeting future observations with more sensitive instruments such as ALMA and the James Webb Telescope.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Simon Ellingsen


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.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applications open only to students with an honours degree (or research masters) in astrophysics
  • 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:

  • This project will require familiarity with analysis of radio astronomy data and ability to code to facilitate automation of data processing and analysis

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.

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