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Progenitor evolution of gravitational-wave emitting black-holes

   Faculty of Natural Sciences

   Wednesday, February 15, 2023  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The era of Gravitational-Wave Astronomy (GWA) opened in the last decade 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 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 (https://www.irenaweb.org/) 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 also strongly encouraged to apply. Other projects related to massive star evolution, 3D stellar hydrodynamic simulations and nucleosynthesis are also possible.

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

Studentship available from September 2023 (flexible)

Contact the Project Coordinator Dr Nick Wright () for information on our PhD programme, or the relevant supervisor for project information.

To be considered for this studentship please submit a formal application to


Please state FNS_ProgenitorRH on your application and the project title.

Funding Notes

100% home tuition fees for 3 years from academic year 2023/24.
Stipend support for 3 years at UKRI rates (22/23 rate £17668 per annum).
Jointly supported by STFC and the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Keele University.
UK nationals, EU and International students are eligible for full funding (tuition fees and stipend at UKRI rate).

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