Examples of PhD projects available
There will be several PhD positions open for application
with a deadline of December 1, 2017. For details of the application procedure see this page. The positions are available in all the research areas in which the Observatory is active.
This page will give a broad overview of possible research projects . However, research in different areas is possible and not all projects that might be offered are listed. The faculty research interests and
the general overview of the research at the Observatory
provide more background information.
- Unravelling the physics of particle acceleration in colliding galaxy clusters with LOFAR.
Galaxy clusters form by violent mergers with other galaxy clusters and groups. Radio observations of clusters have revealed the existence of large megaparsec-size, diffuse synchrotron emitting sources. The synchrotron radiation implies the existence of cosmic rays and magnetic fields. With their enormous extent, these radio sources trace the largest particle accelerators in the Universe. The LOFAR group of Dr. Reinout van Weeren and Prof. Huub Röttgering has a PhD project to work on deep radio observations of clusters to determine the nature of the underlying particle acceleration processes. LOFAR is the world's most powerful low-frequency telescopes and ideally suited to study merging galaxy clusters. The PhD project will focus on constructing the first low-frequency sample of galaxy clusters with matching radio and X-ray data. The work will involve the data reduction, analysis, interpretation, and publication of the LOFAR observations. An additional aim is to obtain and analyze higher frequency radio observations from other radio telescopes (VLA, GMRT) through competitive open-time proposals.
- Discovering radio emission from the cosmic web to study the origin of our Universe's magnetic fields.
Elongated filaments of galaxies and dark matter form the cosmic web. The so-called warm-hot intergalactic medium (WHIM) pervades these galaxy filaments and about half of the Universe's baryons should reside in this WHIM. Galaxy filaments should be surrounded by strong accretion shocks, where the WHIM is first shock-heated. It is expected that these shocks accelerate particles which then emit synchrotron radiation that can be observed with radio telescopes. The LOFAR group of Dr. Reinout van Weeren and Prof. Huub Röttgering has a PhD project with the goal of detecting radio emission from the elusive accretion shocks in the cosmic web. LOFAR is the world's most powerful low-frequency telescopes, enabling ultra-deep imaging studies of galaxy filaments. Detecting radio emission from filaments will open up the opportunity to directly map out the cosmic web and trace the WHIM. In addition, the LOFAR observations of galaxy filaments can put important constraints on origin of our Universe's magnetic fields. The PhD will work on the data reduction and analysis, improve existing calibration techniques, and publish the results. To interpret the results, a comparison with the latest magneto-hydrodynamical simulations of the cosmic web will also be performed.
- The multi-wavelength view of the AGN's star formation relation
Short description: One of the long-standing questions in astrophysical research is what exactly triggers the onset of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGNs). The aim of this project is (1) to study the nuclear star formation history in a well selected sample of nearby AGNs with exquisite data and (2) to participate or lead pioneering efforts to study gas, dust and star formation in the parsec-scale environment of nearby actively accreting super-massive black holes using the upcoming infrared interferometer MATISSE on the VLTI. The projects will be supervised by Dr. Leo Burtscher in collaboration with Prof. Bernhard Brandl and Prof. Walter Jaffe.
- Young protoplanetary disks with JWST-MIRI
The goal of this project is to analyze guaranteed time JWST-MIRI
observations of young disks in the embedded phase of star formation to
determine their physical and chemical structure, and thus the initial
conditions for planet formation.
Funding: NWO TOP-1 (pending) or NOVA NW2 (pending)
- Protoplanetary disk surveys with ALMA
The goal of this project is to use new ALMA observations of large
samples of disks to probe protoplanetary disk evolution and
disk-planet interactions and address the broader context of the
formation of planetary systems capable of hosting life-bearing
The PhD student would be located for the first 3 years of this
position at MPE Garching and for the final year in Leiden. The PhD
degree would be from Leiden University.
Funding: 3 years MPE, 1 year Leiden
- Simulations of the formation of galaxies and/or the evolution of the intergalactic medium
Supervisor: Prof. Joop Schaye
The group led by Joop Schaye has an opening for a PhD student to work on simulations of the formation of galaxies and/or the evolution of the intergalactic medium. Possible projects include the development and analysis of new simulations, varying from large volumes for observational cosmology to high-resolution models of small volumes that contain more physics than is for example included in our large-volume EAGLE simulations. Comparisons with observations are foreseen. There are also possibilities to analyze new observations of the gas around galaxies. The PhD student will become part of an international team.
- ,B.Evolution of galaxies in clusters
Galaxy clusters represent a unique environment to study aspects of galaxy evolution. Only recently have we obtained detailed observations that cover a significant portion of the age of the Universe, so that we can reconstruct a proper sequence of events. In particular high-redshift searches such as SpARCS and the subsequent multi-wavelength follow-up can now be compared to detailed observations at low redshift. Importantly, numerical hydrodynamic simulations, such as the Hydrangea suite, have achieved a level of sophistication so that comparison to the data can test various key aspects of our understanding of galaxy formation in these (extreme) environments.
This PhD project will combine state-of-the-art observations and simulations to study the evolution in the mass-size relations from z=1 to z=0. The results will be compared to the evolution in BCG properties. Another key question to be addressed is how do the simulations look in comparison to the evolution of other cluster galaxy properties such as D4000, SFR, SMF, red fraction, etc. The PhD student is expected to spend extended periods visiting Dr. Adam Muzzin in Toronto (to work on the high redshift cluster observations) and the simulation work is co-supervised by Dr. Yannick Bahé.