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The AGN – galaxy connection: utilising the power of large sky surveys

Department of Physics and Astronomy

About the Project

Supermassive black holes are now thought to lurk at the centres of most, if not all, galaxies but it is still unclear how these black holes form and what drives their subsequent growth over the history of the Universe. This project will focus on identifying growing black holes - seen as Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN; objects such as quasars and Seyferts) - and connecting the properties of these AGN with the properties of the galaxies they lie in.
You will use the latest galaxy surveys, incorporating data from a wide range of facilities such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and the upcoming Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) project to identify galaxies at different cosmic epochs and in different evolutionary states. You will then use multiwavelength datasets including X-ray survey data from ESA's XMM-Newton observatory and NASA's SWIFT and Chandra satellites, together with infrared imaging, and radio data, to identify AGN within these galaxies and determine their properties (such as their luminosities, black hole accretion rates, and their level of obscuration). You will track how the levels of AGN activity depend on the galaxy properties (such as mass, morphology and star formation history) to provide new insights into the processes fuelling and regulating black hole growth across the evolving galaxy population and the physics of accretion onto supermassive black holes.
Within the scope of this project there is also the possibility of studying subsets of the AGN discovered in more detail, for example using archival datasets to study time variability, UV properties etc. to further illuminate the basic physical processes taking place.

Entry requirements

Applicants are required to hold/or expect to obtain a UK Bachelor Degree 2:1 or better in a relevant subject.
The University of Leicester English language (URL:
requirements apply where applicable.

Application advice

To apply please refer to
With your application, please include:
• CV
• Personal statement explaining your interest in the project, your experience and why we should consider you
• Degree Certificates and Transcripts of study already completed and if possible transcript to date of study currently being undertaken
• Evidence of English language proficiency if applicable
• In the reference section please enter the contact details of your two academic referees in the boxes provided or upload letters of reference if already available.
• STFC Research Interests Form 2021, to be completed online at
In the funding section please specify that you wish to be considered for Ref STFC 2021
In the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisors and project title (a proposal is not required)

Project / Funding Enquiries:
Application enquiries to

Funding Notes

This research project is one of a number of projects in the School of Physics. It is in competition for STFC funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the project which receives the best applicant will be awarded the funding.
This project is eligible for a fully funded STFC studentship which includes :
• A full UK fee waiver for 3.5 years
• An annual tax free stipend of £15,285 (2020/2021)
• Research Training Support Grant (RTSG)
• Conference Fees & UK Fieldwork fund


1. SDSS: & SDSS value-added catalogs:
2. The LSST project (now renamed the Rubin Observatory):
3. The LSST project (now renamed the Rubin Observatory):
4. SWIFT satellite:
5. Example research paper:

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