Observing the black hole mergers in the early universe with next-generation gravitational wave observatories.

   Cardiff School of Physics and Astronomy

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The Einstein Telescope and Cosmic Explorer are proposed next-generation gravitational-wave observatories which will be able to detect black hole mergers throughout the observable universe. Thus, observations of black hole mergers have the potential to provide insights into the formation of the first stars, and of the seed black holes which grow to form the supermassive black holes observed in the centres of galaxies. This project will involve developing tools to probe the ability of Einstein Telescope and Cosmic Explorer to observe black hole mergers in the early universe and the accuracy with which their properties (most importantly masses, spins and redshift) can be measured. The results will be used to investigate the ability of gravitational wave observations to probe the formation and evolution of the first black holes in the universe.

 For more information, or if there are any questions, please contact Professor Stephen Fairhurst

The typical academic requirement is a minimum of a 2:1 physics and astronomy or a relevant discipline. 

Applicants whose first language is not English are normally expected to meet the minimum University requirements (e.g. IELTS 6.5 Overall with 5.5 minimum in sub-scores) (https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/international/english-language-requirements

How to apply 

Applicants should apply to the Doctor of Philosophy in Physics and Astronomy. 

Applicants should submit an application for postgraduate study via the Cardiff University webpages (https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research/programmes/programme/physics-and-astronomy) including: 

• your academic CV 

• Your degree certificates and transcripts to date including certified translations if these are not in English 

• a personal statement/covering letter 

• two references, at least one of which should be academic. Your references can be emailed by the referee to   

Please note: We are do not contact referees directly for references for each applicant due to the volume of applications we receive.     

In the "Research Proposal" section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project.

In the funding section, please select that you will be self-funded or include your own sponsorship or scholarship details.

Once your application is submitted, we will review it and advise you within a few weeks if you have been shortlisted for an interview. 

Mathematics (25) Physics (29)

Funding Notes

This project is offered for self-funded students only, or those with their own sponsorship or scholarship award.


The Next Generation Global Gravitational Wave Observatory: The Science Book, V. Kalogera, B. Sathyaprakash et al, arXiv: 2111.06990
Unveiling early black hole growth with multifrequency gravitational wave observations, R. Valiante et al, Mon.Not.Roy.Astron.Soc. 500 (2020) 3, 4095-4109, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/staa3395.

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