9 PhD Study Positions (fellowships for studies towards a PhD degree)

These vacancies are no longer open for applications

Announcement

The ELSA network has announced 9 PhD study positions at different institutes within the network. The host institutes are located in Athens, Barcelona, Brussels, Geneva, Helsinki, Padova, Leiden, Lund and Nice (see the list below).

The deadline for applications was 15 April 2007 (closed). The announcements are retained on these pages for reference purposes.

The fellows will be appointed for a period of 3 or 4 years under employment contracts with the respective ELSA partner (university or similar) hosting the fellowship. The appointments will typically start some time between May and September 2007. All fellows are payed competitive salaries corresponding to the Marie Curie RTN grant scheme, including full social benefits.

The network endeavors to ensure a fair representation of men and women among the appointed researchers, and therefore especially encourages female candidates.

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Who can apply?

In order to be eligible for one of the PhD positions, the candidate must satisfy the following conditions (see flowchart for further information):

Level of experience: The candidate must be an "Early Stage Researcher" (ESR), i.e. without a PhD degree and with at most 4 years of research or research training since obtaining a degree that gives access to doctoral studies in the country where the degree was obtained. In general, this means at most 4 years after the diploma/master thesis.

Nationality: The candidate should normally be a national of an EU Member State or Associated State, or have been resident in such a country for at least 4 out of the last 5 years before the appointment. However, candidates of other nationalities may still be considered subject to constraints imposed by the RTN rules.

Mobility: The candidate should normally be of a different nationality than the host institute, and should not have resided in the country of the host institute for more than 1 out of the last 3 years before the appointment.

Note: The "host institute" of each position is indicated in the list below.

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How to apply

When submitting an application, please respect the following instructions:

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List of PhD positions and job descriptions

#1: Spatial distribution of stellar populations for galaxies resolved in stars by Gaia (Athens, Greece)
#2: Refinement of the Universe model in the Gaia simulator (Barcelona, Spain)
#3: Effect of stellar surface inhomogeneities on astrometric accuracy (Brussels, Belgium)
#4: Astronomical time series Analysis for the ESA Gaia satellite and other large scale surveys (Geneva, Switzerland)
#5: Yarkovsky thermal-emission-force modelling for asteroids (Helsinki, Finland)
#6: Reviewing the current status of spectrophotometry and developing test strategies for future improvements (Padova, Italy)
#7: Theoretical and empirical modelling of charge transfer inefficiency effects in astronomical CCDs (Leiden, The Netherlands)
#8: Geometric modelling and calibration of the Gaia instrument for global astrometry (Lund, Sweden)
#9: Data training for the classification of Gaia sources (Nice, France)

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Position #1 (for PhD studies): Spatial distribution of stellar populations for galaxies resolved in stars by Gaia (Department of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mechanics, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece)

Description: PhD study position for work on the modelling of resolved galaxies as seen by Gaia. Nearby galaxies will be observed by Gaia at a very high spatial resolution. The Magellanic Clouds are the most important targets, with a large number of observed stars, suitable for simulations of the expected distribution of their stellar populations. The spatial distribution of stellar components such as star clusters, stellar associations, carbon stars, will be the main goal of this project. The results of this investigation will be introduced as a test for the Gaia simulation algorithms. Other nearby galaxies will also be considered. Additionally, simulated specta for carbon stars will be derived. These objects, which have an unknown 3D spatial distibution, are very important for star formation, evolutionary and dynamical issues in galaxies. The work will be carried out in close collaboration with the University of Barcelona, The Observatoire de Côte d' Azur, Cambridge (IoA) and Dutch Space. Short or extended visits at these institutes are foreseen.

Requirements: The candidate should have a MSc or equivalent degree.

Address for applications: Prof. Mary Kontizas (mkontiza@cc.uoa.gr, with cc to lennart@astro.lu.se). Please indicate in the subject header of the e-mail: "Application for ELSA position #1".

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Position #2 (for PhD studies): Refinement of the Universe model in the Gaia simulator (Departament d'Astronomia i Meteorologia, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain)

Description: PhD study position for work on refining the simulation of the sky as observed by Gaia. The current Gaia simulator is based on several moduels for simulation of different types of objects in the sky. The main one of them is the already quite detailed Besançon Galaxy model; further evolution and complexification of this model is desired for three purposes:

  1. Allowing a more realistic representation of the galactic stellar content, including elements not presently included (i.e. stellar clusters) or included in an oversimplified way (i.e. variables, rare stellar types). This will allow a better coverage of the data reduction needs.
  2. A refinement of the physics of the model, evolving towards the next generation of galaxy models including features like dynamical self-consistency. This will allow a better preparation of the future scientific exploitation of the Gaia results.
  3. Streamlining and optimisation of the implementation, allowing the generation of the very large simulations (more than a billion objects) needed for testing and validating the Gaia data reduction algorithms. This will require the tailoring of the simulator for execution in large parallel/distributed systems using the Grid Superscalar framework adopted for the development.

The thesis work could optionally include some observational campaigns for the validation of the simulation predictions.

Requirements: Good programming skills are required. Knowledge of Java will be an advantage.

Address for applications: Dr. Jordi Torra (jordi@am.ub.es, with cc to lennart@astro.lu.se). Please indicate in the subject header of the e-mail: "Application for ELSA position #2".

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Position #3 (for PhD studies in Physics): Effect of stellar surface inhomogeneities on astrometric accuracy (Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium)

Description: PhD study position for exploring the possible impact of surface brightness asymmetries on the parallax accuracy of Gaia. Spots (of convective or magnetic origin) on the surface of very extended stars cause the photocentre to move. If the amplitude of this motion is of the same order as the parallax (which may happen if the stellar radius exceeds 1 AU) and if it has a characteristic time scale of the order of one year, the resulting noise may jeopardize the parallax determination. The thesis work will progress in three steps:

  1. Screening the Hipparcos data to identify long-period variables (LPVs) or supergiants where this effect may be at work. Several LPVs indeed have negative parallaxes despite the fact that the period-luminosity relation predicts parallaxes above Hipparcos detection limits. One needs to understand the reasons for these failures.
  2. Relying on existing models of the photocentre motion due to convective cells, build a new module for the Gaia data simulator and generate synthetic astrometric data. Explore the parameter space and evaluate in which region the parallaxes will be most affected by this disturbing effect.
  3. Based on the above knowledge, improve the Gaia pipeline in order to reduce as much as possible the loss of accuracy of large-star parallaxes. This is especially important since much hope goes into deriving reliable period-luminosity for LPVs of different metallicities from Gaia observations.

Address for applications: Dr. Dimitri Pourbaix (pourbaix@astro.ulb.ac.be, with cc to lennart@astro.lu.se). Please indicate in the subject header of the e-mail: "Application for ELSA position #3".

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Position #4 (for PhD studies): Astronomical time series analysis for the ESA Gaia satellite and other large scale surveys (Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, Geneva, Switzerland)

Description: PhD study position for work on the analysis of astronomical time series for Gaia and other large scale surveys. The repeated photometric and spectroscopic observations with an irregular sampling are common in astronomical surveys either from the ground or from space (e.g. OGLE, HAT, and the ESA Hipparcos and Gaia space missions). The successful candidate will have to identify, invent and apply efficient and fast statistical methods which will allow the detection, physical classification and scientific analysis of variable objects (stars, AGNs) from astrometric, photometric and/or spectroscopic data, taking care of spurious events, and peculiarities of a given survey (sampling, noise sources, interdependence of the different observables). The developed data processing should be applicable to very large data sets.

The successful applicant will work in the team at Geneva Observatory and INTEGRAL Science Data Centre lead by Dr Laurent Eyer located near Geneva. The research will be carried out in close collaboration with the groups at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, the universities of Cambridge, Leiden, and Barcelona, Paris Observatory and Dutch Space.

Requirements: We are looking for a highly motivated person with a background in astronomy, statistics knowledge and programming skills.

Address for applications: Dr. Laurent Eyer (Laurent.Eyer@obs.unige.ch, with cc to lennart@astro.lu.se). Please indicate in the subject header of the e-mail: "Application for ELSA position #4".

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Position #5 (for PhD studies in Planetary Science): Yarkovsky thermal-emission-force modelling for asteroids (Department of Astronomy, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland)

Description: PhD study position for work on advanced modelling of the Yarkovsky thermal-emission force acting on the dynamics of rotating, irregularly shaped asteroids with complex surfaces and interior structure. The work could proceed in the following steps: First, generalise the existing thermal-emission models for asteroid surfaces. Second, implement the novel model to compute the Yarkovsky thermal-emission forces and their influence on the propagation of asteroids. Third, assess the inverse problem of deriving model parameters from observations using asteroid spin and shape models. Finally, assess the implications of the research on the interpretation of Gaia observations of asteroids. The successful applicant will work in a team in Helsinki led by Dr. Karri Muinonen. The research will be carried out in close collaboration with the groups involved in planetary research in Nice, Torino, Paris, and Brussels. Extended visits to these institutes are foreseen.

Requirements: MSc in a subject area relevant to the research topic.

Address for applications: Dr. Karri Muinonen (muinonen@cc.helsinki.fi, with cc to lennart@astro.lu.se). Please indicate in the subject header of the e-mail: "Application for ELSA position #5".

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Position #6 (for PhD studies): Reviewing the current status of spectrophotometry and developing test strategies for future improvements (Astronomical Observatory of Padova, Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Padova, Italy)

Description: PhD study position for conducting research in the field of spectrophotometry, in particular comparing synthetic and real stellar spectra with the twofold aim to (1) study the mismatch between synthetic and real spectra which can lead to classification and parameter estimation biases, and (2) calibrate synthetic spectra to be used as tools for the synthesis of stellar populations going from simple (star clusters) to composite populations (galaxies). For Gaia the PhD student will critically review the current spectrophotometric data, methods and calibrations, formulating and testing strategies to alleviate current problems for future spectrophotometry. The relation between space and ground-based calibrations will be addressed, and the support to Gaia spectrophometry that could be offered by preparatory ground-based work explored. The selected applicant will work with Dr. Antonella Vallenari. Collaboration with other institutes involved in ELSA is foreseen, with possible extended visits to Nice, Barcelona, and Cambridge.

Address for applications: Dr. Antonella Vallenari (antonella.vallenari@oapd.inaf.it, with cc to lennart@astro.lu.se). Please indicate in the subject header of the e-mail: "Application for ELSA position #6".

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Position #7 (for PhD studies in Astronomy): Theoretical and empirical modelling of charge transfer inefficiency effects in astronomical CCDs (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands)

Description: PhD study position for work on the detailed theoretical and empirical understanding and modelling of charge transfer inefficiency (CTI) effects in astronomical CCDs. CTI effects are a major source of systematic errors for ESA's Gaia mission, affecting the astrometric image centroiding and the photometric and spectroscopic measurements. Hence a detailed understanding of these effects is needed to reach the scientific performance goals of the Gaia mission and the results of this study will be incorporated in the data processing for Gaia. Previous experience with (astronomical) CCDs, the Gaia mission and/or its astronomical programs is a clear advantage. The successful applicant will work with Dr. Anthony Brown. The research will be carried out in close collaboration with the groups in Lund (incorporation of CTI in astrometric processing), Cambridge (incorporation of CTI in photometric processing), at Dutch Space BV (empirical modelling) and at ESTEC (theoretical/empirical modelling). Extended visits to Cambridge and Lund are foreseen.

Requirements: The applicant should hold the equivalent of a European MSc degree in astronomy, physics, or other closely related physical sciences.

Address for applications: Dr. Anthony Brown (brown@strw.leidenuniv.nl, with cc to lennart@astro.lu.se). Please indicate in the subject header of the e-mail: "Application for ELSA position #7".

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Position #8 (for PhD studies in Astronomy and Astrophysics): Geometric modelling and calibration of the Gaia instrument for global astrometry (Lund Observatory, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)

Description: PhD study position for work on the geometric modelling and calibration of the astrometric instrument onboard ESA's space astrometry mission Gaia. The work concerns in particular the spectrum-, intensity- and time-dependent shifts of the optical images, as recorded by the CCDs, caused by various physical effects in the instrument, including charge transfer inefficiency (CTI), and the possibility to determine these effects as part of the global astrometric solution. The successful applicant will work in a small team in Lund led by Prof. Lennart Lindegren. The research will be carried out in close collaboration with the groups in Leiden, Cambridge and at Dutch Space BV (Leiden). Extended visits to these institutes are foreseen.

Requirements: The applicant must have the equivalent of at least three years of university studies, including at least two years in the physical sciences and an exam/thesis work of at least one semester. Previous experience with (astronomical) CCDs and the Gaia mission and/or its astronomical programs is a clear advantage.

Address for applications: Registrator, Lund University (registrator@lu.se, with cc to lennart@astro.lu.se). Please indicate in the subject header of the e-mail: "Application for ELSA position #8, Ref. 366".

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Position #9 (for PhD studies in Astrophysics): Data training for the classification of Gaia sources (Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, Nice, France)

Description: PhD study position for work on the data training in automatic stellar classification from the Gaia data. The work planned during the thesis is to extend the observational material for reference spectra and to improve the physical modelling needed to feed the stellar atmospheres codes from which a wide grid of high resolution and accurate spectra will be derived. The work will include :

The applicant will receive a good training in both observational technique and computer assisted numerical methods in the field of stellar physics. He or she will be supervised by experts in this field and work in a team with researchers that have been involved for several years in the Gaia project and have responsabilities in the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium. The work is partly carried out in collaboration with Heidelberg (MPIA), Uppsala and Oslo, and extended visits to these institutes may be required.

Requirements: MSc in a subject area relevant to the research topic.

Address for applications: Dr. Frederic Thevenin (frederic.thevenin@obs-nice.fr, with cc to lennart@astro.lu.se). Please indicate in the subject header of the e-mail: "Application for ELSA position #9".

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