Final Announcement: AGN across continents and cosmic time

This is the final call for registration of interest to participate in the conference AGN across continents and cosmic time, hosted at Durham and Newcastle University. The conference is limited to 80 people and you must register your interest by 30 Nov to be considered for participation. Visit:

This scientific workshop will explore current understanding of AGN populations, with a particular focus on current and future observational surveys. The primary scientific questions to be addressed are:

  1. How can we establish a complete census of black hole growth across cosmic time (including the highest redshift AGN) and what does this tell us about how and when supermassive black holes form and grow?
  2. What can multi-wavelength surveys tell us about different physical components of AGN and what implications does this have for a standard/unified model or evolutionary model of AGN?
  3. What are the properties of the host galaxies of different AGN populations and what does this tell us about how galaxies and AGN influence each other? 
  4. What are the different data, observational techniques, and analysis methods we need to accelerate progress in answering these questions over the coming decade?

The scope of this workshop covers observational and theoretical work across the full wavelength range that tackle these scientific questions. We anticipate a strong showcase of work that is of strong interest to both the European and African communities. For example, results from SKA pathfinder telescopes such as LOFAR, e-MERLIN, JVLA, and MeerKAT, in addition to telescopes such SALT in South Africa and H.E.S.S. in Namibia. Whilst the focus is on European-African collaboration, scientists from everywhere are welcome to participate.

Confirmed invited speakers: Marie Korsaga; Anna Scaife; Ryan Hickox; Sthabile Kolwa

The workshop will be limited to around 80 participants. Presentation selection will be based on the quality of abstract submissions for talks or posters, and/or their alignment to the focus of the meeting. We will also consider demographics to ensure participation from a wide range of applicants. 

Application Form (participation, abstract submission and for financial support):
You MUST fill out this form to be considered for attendance. 

Deadline: 30th November 2023 
Workshop Dates: 8th – 12th July 2024 
Location: Durham University & Newcastle University (United Kingdom)

Costs and Financial Support

The anticipated conference fee is around £300 (details to be confirmed later). We have a substantial (but finite) budget to support scientists coming to the workshop, with a priority to those from Africa and those who do not have their own funds. This could cover, up to and including all travel and accommodation costs, plus registration fee waiver. Preference for financial support will be given to those most in need, and to early career researchers. Applicants should indicate in their form, the level of financial support they would require to attend the workshop (e.g., travel, accommodation, fee waiver, complete costs, etc.). 

Applications (deadline 30th November)

The mandatory form is to be completed by anybody interested in attending the workshop AGN Across Continents in Durham in July 2024 (even if not submitting an abstract). This form will be used by the Scientific Organising Committee to select participants. It will also be used as an application for any requests for financial support to attend the workshop (details below). Applications for financial support are required at this stage, to ensure we can distribute the limited funds in the most effective and fair way. For more practical information, including options for financial support and key dates, please visit the website:

Two new papers: How do powerful supermassive black holes impact upon molecular gas?

Two new papers have been published from the Quasar Feedback Survey, which is a project led by Chris Harrison. The two papers, led by PhD Students Aishwarya Girdhar and Stephen Molyneux, use data from the ALMA and APEX facilities to establish how rapidly growing supermassive black holes (which we call quasars) are able to influence the molecular gas in their host galaxies. Emission lines associated with Carbon Monoxide (CO) are used to trace the molecular gas.

In the study of Girdhar et al., four quasars are selected from the survey to map in lots of detail, the distribution and motions of the molecular gas. These quasars were selected because they are known to have large bubbles of radio emission extending well beyond the main host galaxy disks. These are thought to be inflated by radio jets expanding from the central black hole. Molecular gas appears to be being lifted by these expanding radio bubbles in two of the targets investigated (see upper panels in the figure). This may be making it more difficult for the galaxy to form stars in the future (molecular gas is the fuel for forming new stars). In all four targets, another impact of the powerful, growing black holes was revealed: extreme velocities were observed close to the central regions (see lower panels in the figure), likely due to “outflowing” gas driven by the jets or powerful radiation in these regions.

In the study of Molyneux et al., 17 quasars were studies from the survey. Using information of multiple different CO emission lines (this time with no spatial information), it was investigated if the molecular gas across the whole galaxies is “excited” due to the powerful quasars and jets in these systems. In short, the conditions of the molecular gas were found to be consistent with that expected if there was no additional excitation (beyond what is typically expected for these sort of highly star-forming host galaxies). The conclusion of these two studies, is that the impact of the quasars is not to instantly affect the whole gas reservoir, but instead, more localised and longer term affects (driving outflows, lifting the gas) may make it more difficult for the host galaxies to form stars in the future. This is consistent with expectations from theoretical models and simulations, as recently demonstrated by another one of our PhD students, Samuel Ward, in Ward et al. (2022).

Lecturer/Senior Lecture Position in Astrophysics

As part of a strategy to rapidly expand our Physics programme, the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics (MSP) is looking to appoint an Astrophysicist. The post is required to commence September 2023 at the latest. Deadline 20th September 2022.

Application information and form:

We are looking for an enthusiastic academic with expertise in any area of observational or theoretical astrophysics. You will be expected to establish their own area of expertise but may find synergies with our existing areas of strength (galactic magnetism, stellar and planetary (magneto-) hydrodynamics, AGN and accretion physics, neutron stars, cosmology and relativity). Applications are particularly encouraged from those with an interest in Astrostatistics. Newcastle has recently secured an STFC CDT [Science and Technology Facilities Council – Centre for Doctoral Training] in data intensive science in partnership with Northumbria University.

Several PhD Positions Available

We invite applications for several fully-funded PhD studentships in astrophysics at Newcastle University, starting in 2022. Within ourObservational Astronomy and Cosmology & Quantum Gravity groups, we offer a vibrant environment for PhD students and postdocs with links to other areas of physics, mathematics and statistics. We value equality, diversity and inclusion and strive to promote it within our groups and beyond.

Below is a short summary of the available positions:
X-ray polarization: a new window to understand black holes. Studentship supervised by Dr Adam Ingram
Deadline: January 31st 2022
Further details:

Understanding the connections between supermassive black holes and galaxies with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Studentship supervised by Dr David Rosario
Deadline: January 31st 2022
Further details:

Bell-Burnell Graduate Scholarship Graduate Scholarship for students from groups currently under-represented in Physics (part-funded from the IOP). Our group members offer several cosmology and observational astronomy projects.
Deadline: 12 December
Further details:

Robinson Cosmology PhD studentships: Two prestigious PhD studentships in cosmology. We offer projects ranging from early universe theory to late-time cosmology with applications to galaxy surveys.
Deadline: 31 January
Further details:

Lady Bertha Jeffrey’s PhD studentship in Theoretical Physics or Astrophysics:Prestigious PhD studentship in Theoretical Physics orAstrophysics. Projects range from black holes to galaxies and the cosmic web.
Deadline 31: January
Further details:

Three Postdoc Positions in Extragalactic Astronomy

The School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics (MSP) at Newcastle University are seeking to recruit three Research Associates in Extragalactic Astrophysics, joining an exciting UKRI-funded research program managed by Dr. Christopher Harrison. Information and application instructions are available here:

The project will combine multi-wavelength astronomical observations with hydrodynamic simulations in order to make significant scientific progress in understanding how Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) influence the formation and evolution of galaxies. Three Research Associate positions are available covering the following specific areas:

  • 1) MOONS support and related science:

You will become a member of the MOONS extragalactic consortium. You will have experience in optical/near-infrared spectroscopy and/or processing large datasets. The holder of this 3+1 year position will split their work effort halfway between supporting data reduction/software/archiving for the the forthcoming MOONS multi-object spectrograph and on related science projects

  • 2) Multi-wavelength observations of AGN feedback:

You will have relevant skills in observational astronomy. Applicants with expertise in reducing/analysing interferometric radio data are particularly encouraged. The holder of this 3 year position will work on a variety of observational datasets to study how AGN are influencing the properties of their host galaxies

  • 3) Hydrodynamic simulations of AGN feedback:

You will have experience in hydrodynamic galaxy simulations. The holder of this 3 year position will develop hydrodynamic simulations to produce observationally testable predictions of the influence of AGN on their host galaxy’s interstellar medium.

Chris Harrison wins Future Leaders Fellowship Grant

Chris Harrison is among the nearly 100 of the UK’s future science leaders set to benefit from a £113m cash boost to help commercialise their innovations during the Round 5 of the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship. Delivered through UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship Future Leaders Fellowships scheme – which aims to establish the careers of the next generation of world class British scientists – the investment will enable researchers at universities and businesses to progress their studies quickly by funding essential equipment and paying for researcher wages.

Chris will explore using data from the best telescopes in the world, as well as computer simulations, to understand the relationship between supermassive black holes and galaxies. Alongside this, he will be developing new techniques to make the data more accessible to people who are blind and vision impaired. As part of this he will be looking for 3 PDRAs to join the AstroObs group to work on observations and simulations!

Paper: Quasar-driven outflows do not cause rapid in-situ quenching of star formation

Jan Scholtz, former PhD student of Chris Harrison, has published his paper re-assessing the insitu impact of ionised outflows (driven by three z~2.5 quasars) on the star formation in their host galaxies. The paper has been accepted by MNRAS and is available on the arXiv:2106.05277.

The paper uses spatially-resolved measurements of the dust distribution (using sub-mm interferometric data from ALMA) and the ionised gas properties (using integral field spectroscopic data from SINFONI). The three quasars under investigation were of particular interest due to previous claims (using only SINFONI data) of strong evidence that the star formation was suppressed at the location of the galaxy-wide ionised outflows. However, the new evidence from ALMA suggests that dusty-star formation is still ongoing at the locations of the outflows, in at least two of these targets. Nonetheless, compared to regular star-forming galaxies at the same redshift, and with the same mass, their star formation rates appear to be low. This might mean the impact by the quasar driven outflows on the host galaxy, is not a rapid shut down of star formation, but star formation could be suppressed on longer timescales by the cumulative effect of quasar episodes during the growth of these massive black holes. This all adds to helping solve the mystery of how quasars change the life of galaxies!

Quasar Feedback Survey Launched

I am delighted to introduce our Quasar Feedback Survey ( a multi-wavelength study of how quasars interact with their host galaxies. With this first paper ( we use high-resolution VLA imaging to discover that hidden radio AGN are prevalent, and demonstrate a connection between the radio properties and the ionised gas kinematics. This all shows the importance of studying the radio emission, even in “radio quiet”, quasar hosts to understand feedback. With the launch of our website we have also released data products from this paper and our earlier pilot papers on sub-sets of the targets. These include data tables, radio images, data cubes etc.

Example radio images from our sample showing the diversity of radio morphologies

Astrophysics Lectureship Position

As part of our ongoing strategy to grow astronomy/astrophysics at Newcastle University we are delighted to announce that we are advertising for applicants for an observational/theoretical astrophysics lectureship to commence by September 2021. The application deadline is May 19th.
For details visit:

The position is for observational or theoretical astrophysicists. Beyond this, there are no specified areas of research expertise. However, the applicants should consider how they compliment current areas of expertise at Newcastle which includes: compact objects; galaxies/AGN; cosmology; and MHD simulations of the ISM/stellar interiors. In addition to a strong research track record, applicants should have a genuine interest and commitment to developing the role of under-represented groups in Physics, and an interest in establishing innovative, evidence-based programmes that will target these groups at all levels.

Find out more about our Astro-Obs group: ; our Cosmology group:; our MHD group:; as well as the School as a whole:

PhD Position: Lady Bertha Jeffreys Studentship

This is an announcement about the Lady Bertha Jeffreys PhD studentship currently being advertised to attract the best students to our School. We are inviting students to apply for the Lady Bertha Jeffreys PhD studentship. This is a prestigious studentship from the estate of Lady Bertha Jeffreys Bequest and funds from the estate of her husband Sir Harold Jeffreys. Both Anne and Chris are offering projects for this studentship. More details available here: