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  Extending the spectrum of simulation-based modelling of gamma-ray burst afterglows

   Department of Physics

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  Dr Hendrik Van Eerten, Dr Patricia Schady  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The University of Bath is inviting applications for the following PhD project based in the Astrophysics Group within the Department of Physics and supervised by Dr Hendrik Van Eerten (lead supervisor) and Dr Patricia Schady (co-supervisor).


30 September 2024.

An earlier start date may be possible in agreement with the lead supervisor.


The focus of this PhD project is gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and their afterglows at various frequencies, produced by near light-speed jets of plasma triggered by the collapse of a massive star or the merging of two neutron stars. GRB afterglow science is once again set to undergo rapid growth spurred by observational developments. The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) are set to extend observational reach at the low and high frequency ranges respectively, while multi-messenger observations including gravitational waves have already prompted an overhaul of the way the structure of GRB jets is modelled.

Our group has a wide range of methods for modelling GRB afterglows, ranging from detailed hydrodynamics and radiation simulations of jets to semi-analytical shell models. You will work with our python-based open-source software package, Afterglowpy, and extend its functionality with additional features relevant to low and high frequency observations, including Compton scattering and radio imaging. You will take a prominent role in the presentation and development of Afterglowpy, including links to Bayesian inference methods.

In your research, you will use our tools to address outstanding fundamental questions about GRBs, examining the impact of jet launching and propagation on current and expected future observations, the nature of the jet-launching engine (black hole or highly magnetic neutron star?) and the extent to which multi-messenger observations can be combined to constrain model parameters of relevance to cosmology as well as the plasma physics of particle shock-acceleration. For this purpose, you will model existing data sets and “synthetic” data, generated by our software for the purpose of testing our assumptions about the distributions realized in nature of the model parameters underpinning GRBs (such as the explosion energy, degree of magnetization and the external medium properties).


Applicants should have a background in the physical sciences. They should have, or expect to gain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent from an overseas university. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement.


Applicants are encouraged to contact the lead supervisor, Dr Hendrik Van Eerten (email: [Email Address Removed]) before applying to find out more about the project and to discuss their suitability for the role.

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Physics.


When completing the application form:

  1. In the Funding your studies section, select ‘STFC’ as the studentship for which you are applying.
  2. In the Your PhD project section, quote the project title of this project and the name of the lead supervisor in the appropriate boxes. 
  3. Should you wish to apply for more than one project at Bath, you may do so within the same application but you should ensure you quote each project title (and the name of the lead supervisor) in order or preference in the appropriate boxes within the Your PhD project section and, IMPORTANTLY, you should upload a separate (clearly labelled) personal statement for each one, outlining your interest and suitability for that particular project. 

Failure to complete the above steps will cause delays in processing your application and may cause you to miss the deadline.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.


We value a diverse research environment and aim to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We welcome and encourage applications from under-represented groups.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.

Mathematics (25) Physics (29)

Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project may be considered for a 3.5-year studentship from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Funding covers Home tuition fees, stipend (£18,622 per annum, 2023/24 rate) and an allowance for research expenses and conference attendance. International candidates may be considered for a University fee waiver scholarship equal to the difference between the Home and Overseas tuition fee rates for the duration of the STFC studentship. In addition, applications from self-funded students are always welcome.


Ryan, Van Eerten, Piro & Troja 2020, Gamma-Ray Burst Afterglows in the Multi-messenger Era: Numerical Models and Closure Relations, Astrophysical Journal, 896, 166 (IOP top cited paper award 2023).

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