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PhD studentship in Astrophysics - X-ray polarization: a new window to understand black holes

   School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics

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  Dr Adam Ingram  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


We invite applications for a PhD studentship supervised by Dr Adam Ingram within the Astronomy and Cosmology group in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics at Newcastle University. The successful candidate will analyse and model observations of accreting black holes made by NASA’s new X-ray mission, the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE).

Material falling onto a black hole glows brightly in X-rays, lighting up the vicinity of the event horizon. Such accretion happens onto stellar-mass black holes in X-ray binaries and onto supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei, but the vicinity of the black hole is far too small to directly image. Indirect mapping techniques are therefore required. Until now, we have only been able to measure the brightness of the X-rays and how this depends on wavelength and time. IXPE (launch December 2021) will change this, as it will also be able to make the first measurements of X-ray polarization. The successful candidate will become an associate member of the IXPE team in order to analyse and develop models for new IXPE data from X-ray binaries and active galactic nuclei. The polarization measurements from the new data will provide a whole new way to view and understand black holes.

A founding member of the prestigious Russell Group of research-intensive universities in the UK, Newcastle University is consistently ranked as one of the Top 150 universities in the world (QS World University Rankings 2020). The University is centrally located in the beautiful and cosmopolitan city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which is ranked No.1 for affordability (QS Best Student Cities 2019), No.4 for social life (THE Student Experience Survey 2018), and in the Top 3 for both safety and friendliness (Unbroken Britain Survey 2018) in the UK. 

Number Of Awards


Start Date

September 2022

Award Duration

3.5 years

Application Closing Date

31 January 2022


School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics


Dr Adam Ingram

Eligibility Criteria

You must have or expect a First Class or high 2:1 Honours degree or international equivalent in physics, astronomy, engineering, or closely related disciplines. Enthusiasm for research, ability to think and work independently, excellent analytical skills, and strong verbal and written communication skills are essential requirements. 

If English is not your first language, you must have IELTS 6.5 overall (with a minimum of 5.5 in all sub-skills). 

The award is available to home and international applicants. 

How To Apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system.

You will need to:

  • Insert the programme code 8821F in the programme of study section
  • Select ‘PhD Physics (Theoretical)’ as the programme of study
  • Insert the studentship code MSP045 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code MSP045 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • Attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications

Funding Notes

A tax-free stipend of £15,609 per year (subject to minor change) and 100% Home/International tuition fees.
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