NUDATA07 Developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) Agents to weight the Largest Structures in the Universe

   Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering

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  Dr Markus Rau  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Overview of the CDT

This project is being offered as part of the STFC Centre for Doctoral Training in Data Intensive Science, called NUdata, which is a collaboration between Northumbria and Newcastle Universities, STFC, and a portfolio of over 40 industrial partners, including SMEs, large/multinational companies, Government and not-for profit organisations, and international humanitarian organisations. Please visit for full information.


Galaxy Clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the Universe. These structures can span millions of lightyears in diameter and contain over a thousand galaxies. By accurately measuring the mass of these cosmic Giants, we can learn the Dark Energy equation of state or even generalize Einstein's theory of General Relativity.

Galaxy Clusters are so massive that they visibly bend light from background galaxies proportional to their mass. Finding samples of galaxies that allow for an accurate mass estimation in the billions of galaxies observed by surveys like LSST is challenging.

 In this project, you will use principles of Reinforcement Learning to develop AI agents that search and tag galaxies for Galaxy Cluster mass estimation and follow-up observations. You will analyze data from state-of-the-art surveys like the Vera Rubin Observatory and the South Pole Telescope and lay the groundwork for the next generation of AI-driven Cluster cosmology. 

Recruitment Event

You will join a strong and supportive research team. To help better understand the aims of the CDT and to meet the PhD supervisors, we are hosting a day-long event on campus on Monday 15th January 2024. At that event, there will be an opportunity to discuss your research ideas, meet potential PhD supervisors, as well as hear from speakers from a variety of backgrounds (academia, industry, government, charity) discussing both STFC and data science as well as their personal paths and backgrounds. Travel and accommodation (if needed) will be covered, but funds are limited, so please register early.  Click for details

Please note:

Please list all Newcastle hosted projects you are interested in in your cover letter. You are strongly encouraged to list multiple projects, since some projects are more popular than others. You only need to submit one application even if you are interested in multiple projects (we recommend you submit your application to your first choice). 

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Physics (29)

 About the Project