Over the next five years, a new dimension in astronomy will reach maturity: the temporal dimension. Rather relying on static "photos" of the sky, astronomers will transition to "filming" sky night after night. This opens up the prospect of identifying many types of transient phenomena that we have had little or no chance of studying systematically before. Among these are short-lived events related to supermassive black holes, including so called "tidal disruption events" when a star is ripped apart by a black hole. In this project, you will exploit nightly-updated wide-field surveys of the sky to identify and study black-hole transient events as they happen. This project will involve the use and development of Big Data analytical tools to automatically identify rare transient events from vast amounts of imaging data.
Science Graduate School: As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School – a community of postgraduate researchers working across biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and psychology. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/sgs to learn more.