Study level

  • PhD
  • Master of Philosophy


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Research centre


Dr Michael Cowley
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Science

External supervisors

  • Professor Andrew Hopkins, Australian Astronomical Optics


Dust in galaxies is ubiquitous. It arises from the end stages of stellar evolution, with heavy elements formed over a star's lifetime being distributed throughout a parent galaxy as the star goes supernova.

There are numerous approaches to measuring dust obscuration in galaxies. These approaches show a broad trend toward heavier obscuration in galaxies that support higher levels of star formation. However, there is relatively little understanding for why this relationship exists.

By analysing the properties of galaxies in the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey, we can establish the driving factors that link star formation and dust obscuration. This will improve our understanding of this empirical relationship.

Research activities

As part of this research project, you will:

  • measure the star formation rates in galaxies
  • measure dust obscuration in galaxies using Balmer decrement and infrared luminosity
  • use standard diagnostic diagrams to exclude certain galaxies
  • establish well-defined galaxy subsamples as a function of mass, redshift and metallicity
  • determine the relationship between dust obscuration and dust mass for each subsample.


We expect to demonstrate the nature of dust obscuration. This includes its dependence or connection to star formation within galaxies. This will be as a function of galaxy mass, metallicity and redshift.

This research can lead to high impact publications.

You'll also have the opportunity to network with astronomers based in various international institutions.

Skills and experience

The analysis and interpretation of the data will involve custom-designed data processing. Therefore, familiarity with a programming language, such as Python or IDL, is desirable.


You may be eligible to apply for a research scholarship.

Explore our research scholarships


Contact the supervisor for more information.