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Progenitor evolution of gravitational-wave emitting black-holes

   Faculty of Natural Sciences

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  Dr R Hirschi  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The era of Gravitational-Wave Astronomy (GWA) opened in the last few years with the first detections from the LIGO and VIRGO observatories. One of the key open questions in this field is: what is the initial black-hole mass distribution, that eventually merge and produce some of the brightest GW signals? Prof Raphael Hirschi and his collaborators have completed extensive grids of models of massive and very massive stars (between 10 and 500 times the mass of the Sun). The advertised PhD project will focus on the evolution of very massive stars towards the most massive black-holes. The project will combine calculating new stellar evolution models as well as exploiting the large existing grids of models to improve theoretical predictions of the initial black-hole mass distribution. In addition to doing exciting science, the successful candidate will learn key computing skills and be exposed to the industry, which will give her/him a strong skillset for both an academic and an industrial career. This PhD project will run in parallel to the ChETEC-INFRA infrastructure European project and the IReNA NSF network of networks ( that Prof Hirschi is part of. These international network and project will offer great opportunities (training, networking, collaborations with both academic and industrial partners) for the successful candidate. Candidates with a degree in Mathematics or Computer Sciences and a background in fluid dynamics are strongly encouraged to apply.

Candidate Profile 


Qualifications, Experience and Skills

●      Candidates must hold at least an upper-2nd class Bachelors degree or an appropriate Masters qualification in a physics related subject or its equivalent. 


●      First class Bachelor or 2:1 Masters degree in a relevant discipline

●      Evidence of ability to undertake research work in the area of astrophysics or related area

Attitude and Personality


●      Ability and willingness to undertake advanced research study at PhD level

●      Excellent communication, interpersonal and organizational skills

●      Willingness to learn new theoretical and practical science skills and commitment to ongoing personal training

●      Ability to work both independently and as part of a team


●      Evidence of organizational and time management skills

●      Skills in planning research work

For informal enquiries on this project, contact Prof Raphael Hirschi by email: [Email Address Removed] . Other projects related to massive star evolution, 3D stellar hydrodynamic simulations and nucleosynthesis are also possible.

Please quote reference FNS 2021-15 when applying.

Closing date: 27th May 2022 in the first instance. Applications received by the deadline will receive first consideration. Applications received after the deadline will be considered until the positions are filled.

Funding Notes

100% UK tuition fees for 3 years from academic year 2022/23. Stipend for 3 years at UKRI rates (2022/23 rate £16602 per annum). Jointly supported by STFC and Faculty of Natural Sciences, Keele University. UK nationals are eligible for full funding (tuition fees and stipend at UKRI rate). Keele University may also consider covering the cost of additional international tuition fees and therefore non-UK students are also encouraged to apply
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