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Star formation in the Magellanic Clouds

   Faculty of Natural Sciences

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  Dr J Oliveira  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are the nearest templates for the detailed study of star formation under metal-poor conditions. These galaxies mirror the conditions typical of galaxies during the early phases of their assembly, providing a stepping stone to understand star formation at high redshift where such processes can not be directly observed. The PhD project aims to use near-IR photometry from the Vista Magellanic Cloud (VMC) Survey combined with optical photometry from the SMASH survey to constrains and characterise young stellar populations across the Magellanic System: using statistical methods including machine learning to identify young stars, construct the Initial Mass Function across whole star formation complexes, map and quantify the true extent of these regions and the interplay with the gas and dust. This project also can make use of the VMC survey multi epoch data to characterise massive young stellar variability across the whole Magellanic System, to constrain any environmental dependence on the galactic environment. This project would focus on two 1.2 degree squared regions in the sky, one in each galaxy, that contain well over two million sources observed over 20 epochs. These sources belong to different stellar populations, that need to be disentangled so that the young stars can be identified and characterised. This is a data-intensive undertaking that needs machine learning techniques. Furthermore, the light curves of many of these sources need to be analysed to identify and characterise variables, the most extreme of which are the young stars. Also for this analysis, machine learning and/or Bayesian techniques are crucial to identify sources of interest. 

Candidate Profile Essential

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 Dr Joana Oliveira by email:

[Email Address Removed]

When applying, please quote reference FNS 2021-15

Closing date: 27th May 2022

Applications received by the deadline will receive first consideration. Applications received after the deadline will be considered until the position is 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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