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The climate of black hole growth

Department of Physics and Astronomy

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Dr J Mullaney Applications accepted all year round Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

It seems that all massive galaxies contain, at their centres, supermassive black holes with masses of at least a million times the mass of our Sun. These black holes grow by accreting gas and dust from their host galaxies, and in the process emit vast amounts of energy in the form of light which we see as "Active Galactic Nuclei", or AGN. These AGN are thought to have played a major role in galaxy evolution. Despite their importance, however, it is not entirely clear what host galaxy properties dictate their growth rates. Part of the difficulty in investigating this is that, like the weather on Earth, AGN vary on short timescales, making it hard to identify the underlying controlling factors. In this project, you will use large astronomical surveys to conduct a "census" of AGN to look beyond the short-term effects and instead determine what factors control the long-term "climate" of black hole growth.

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 to learn more

Funding Notes

All our offered projects are potentially STFC-fundable, but we don't yet know our quota (it's likely to be one or two this year, so not all will be funded). However, all projects are also open to candidates with external funding (typically overseas students).

To be considered for STFC funding, applications received before the 15th of February will receive our full attention. We'll consider externally-funded applicants until the 31st of July.

All projects are open to home/EU/international students, but only UK-resident applicants can be considered for STFC funding.

Unless otherwise stated, each project is supervised by the named individual supervisors.
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