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The Transient science revolution (AST/2020/OBR)

Project Description

The era of multi-messenger astronomy is here thanks to a revolution in the discovery and characterisation of explosive transients. These include Gamma-Ray Bursts, the sources of gravitational waves and other classes of high-energy emitters. The discovery space is about to expand further thanks to the availability of new, powerful facilities on ground and in space. This PhD is to exploit these facilities to constrain the multi-messenger properties of GRBs.

At Leicester we strive to characterize transient events by undertaking coordinated searches for electromagnetic counterparts using many ground and space observatories observing across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. These observatories include Swift, GOTO, HESS, VLT, HST, Chandra and GMRT. We are co-investigators in the SVOM satellite, due for launch at the end of 2021, which will greatly enhance the search for high-energy transients, providing a powerful complement to Swift. It will be followed by the Einstein Probe X-ray survey satellite in 2022 and the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) will come on-line in 2020+. Leicester has access to all of these facilities, and by combining the data from them with those from gravitational wave and neutrino observations we both discover and characterise transients. Over the next few years the combination of enhanced survey capability simultaneously in the optical, X-ray, gamma-ray and very high-energy emission bands will bring many new discoveries some of which may also have gravitational-wave and neutrino counterparts.

We have a large, highly successful team of staff and students studying many types of transient providing a strong support system for PhD students. We also work with our colleagues in theoretical astrophysics to construct detailed models which predict the behaviour of transient sources. Students also frequently join the mission teams, providing an opportunity to participate in the real-time operation of space and ground facilities. The ability to work with people who designed and built the observing facilities, developed the data processing software, construct theoretical models and interpret the results provides the ideal environment for rapid progress.

Entry Requirements

UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.

The University of Leicester English language requirements apply.

Home/EU students only subject to residency requirements.

Application Instructions

When applying, please ensure we have received all of the following required documents by Wednesday 29th January 2020:

• Submit an online application form
• 2 academic references
• STFC Research Interests Form
• CV
• Undergraduate transcripts
- If you have completed your undergraduate degree, we will also require your undergraduate degree certificate
- If you have completed a postgraduate degree, we will also require your transcripts and degree certificate

If we do not have the required documents by the closing date, your application may not be considered for the studentship.

Interview Dates

26th February 2020 – In person
27th February 2020 – Skype only
28th February 2020 – Skype only
2nd March 2020 – Skype only
3rd March 2020 – Skype only
4th March 2020 – In person

Funding Notes

Funding Source: STFC Quota Studentship

3.5 year Studentship provides a tuition fee waiver at UK/EU rates, stipend at UKRI rates and RTSG.


1. The SVOM mission -

2. Short duration GRBs -

3. GRB progenitors -

4. The GOTO observatory -

5. Interpreting signals from astrophysical transients -

Related Subjects

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