There are currently several PhD positions open for application with a deadline of December 1, 2016. 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 gives 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.
We have a vacancy for one PhD position within the Astronomical Instrumentation group in the context of the ERC Starting Grant project FALCONER of Frans Snik. The project revolves around our advanced liquid-crystal coronagraph called the vector-APP, which we are currently successfully applying on-sky, and enhancing for future instruments. The goal for this PhD position is to combine this coronagraph technology with other crucial optical modalities for high-contrast imaging and exoplanet characterization: adaptive optics and (focal-plane) wavefront sensing, spectroscopy and polarimetry. The successful candidate will design and simulate novel combinations of these optical techniques, test them in the lab, and apply them on-sky. This work will enable new types of observations of exoplanets with current telescopes, and inform the optimal design of future instruments at the E-ELT.
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, high-resolution simulations that contain more physics than is for example included in our current large-volume EAGLE simulations. Comparisons with observations, including data taken by members of the group, are foreseen. The PhD student will become part of an international team.
Understanding how galaxies formed their stars over cosmic time is one of the most fundamental questions in astronomy. With the substantial upgrades to the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) complete, and with the advent of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), these facilities are poised to shed new light on star formation in distant galaxies. We have funding from a VIDI grant for two interested PhD students to carry out large-scale studies of the dust-unbiased star formation and molecular gas content in the epoch of galaxy assembly using PI-led data in combination with ample ancillary data. The PhD students will lead the reduction and analysis of the radio/submillimeter data in the context of the well-studied extragalactic COSMOS and ECDFS fields, which include a plethora of spectroscopy and deep multi-wavelength photometry. These projects will allow the students to become experts in long-wavelength interferometry and members of a leading international collaboration on observational studies of high-redshift galaxies.
The group led by Ignas Snellen has an opening for a PhD student working on explorative observations of exoplanets and their atmospheres, utilizing state-of-the-art observing techniques such as high-dispersion spectroscopy - also combined with high-contrast imaging. Possible projects include detailed observations of molecular abundances, temperature structures, global winds, and spin-rotation of exoplanets. We seek a bright and ambituous PhD candidate who is keen to acquire the necessary skills and tools for complex data analyis, and who is attracted to the explorative nature of exoplanet science.
The student will work with Prof. M. Kenworthy and Dr. F. Snik on exoplanet observational programs using the vector Apodising Phase Plate, a coronagraph that is ideally suited for directly imaging exoplanets around nearby stars. One coronagraph was already commissioned at the Magellan telescope in Chile working at L and M bands, and two more have been installed at the Large Binocular Telescope last summer. The student will design and implement observational projects for these and other telescopes, and develop optimal planet recovery algorithms.
The buildup of the stellar population in galaxies is governed by the balance between gas inflow, providing the fuel for star formation, and gas outflows from the galaxy as a result of the star formation process. Massive gas outflows, driven by multiple supernova explosions or an active galactic nucleus, have now been observed in many luminous galaxies, primarily at low redshift. In this project outflows in high-redshift will be studied, using new data that have been obtained with ALMA. The PhD student will take the lead in the analysis of the ALMA data. Issues that will be addresed are: outflow velocities, driving mechanism of the outflow (star formation or active nucleus), size of the outflow region, mass outflow rate and its dependence on galaxy properties, etc.
LOFAR, the Low Frequency Radio Array, is a pan-European radio telescope that is opening up the ultra low frequency (10 - 240 MHz) sky for astronomical observations. The aim of this project is make very deep high resolution images using the entire LOFAR array to study in a unique way distant star bursting galaxies and AGN.
Protoclusters are the progenitors of nearby massive clusters of galaxies. Through the combination of deep LOFAR, submm and infrared surveys, the plan is to define the first good sample of protoclusters. With this sample we will address a number of basic questions, including: What is the space density and clustering correlation length of proto-clusters? 2. What are the properties (masses, star formation rates, ages) of the galaxies in proto-clusters? 3. What are the overall characteristics (sizes, masses, velocity dispersions) of proto-clusters?
During the first few billion years of the universe, normal galaxies experience prodigious amounts of star formation and grow very rapidly in stellar mass. One useful way of characterizing star-forming galaxies in the early universe is by looking at the line emission output from these galaxies. Particularly strong line emission indicates very low metal abundances in distant galaxies, high star formation rates, and a hard radiation field output by the young stars in a galaxy. With current facilities, we can establish both the presence and strength of line emission with the IRAC camera on the Spitzer Space Telescope. One of the most significant opportunities to quantify the prevalence and properties of young galaxies in the early universe showing these prodigiously high star formation rates can be found in two new large > ~1000-hour programs being executed with Spitzer. Not only will these programs allow for the study of these extreme systems, but such sources represent ideal targets for further spectroscopic studies, both with current generation near-infrared spectrographs and in the future with the James Webb Space Telescope. The research team of Rychard Bouwens, Ivo Labbe, and Jarle Brinchmann expects to have an opening for a PhD student to pursue such a project starting in the fall of 2017.
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 group of Jarle Brinchmann has up to two positions available for work on data from the MUSE Guaranteed Time Observations. MUSE is arecent instrument for the VLT that provides spectra of each 0.2"x0.2" pixel on the sky over a 1'x1' field of view. One project will be to work on the properties of ultra-faint dwarfs around the Milky Way and to constrain their dark matter and stellar content. This is a large project, starting in the autumn of 2017. The student will be in charge of data reduction and the first scientific analysis of the data with some freedom to decide the main focus of research. The second project focuses on a systematic comparison of extreme line emitters at low (0<z<4) redshift as compared to high redshift galaxies and will be carried out in close collaboration with Drs Rychard Bouwens and Ivo Labbé
The scaling relations between various baryonic tracers and the dark matter halo mass can be used to test the feedback models implemented in numerical simulations. Improving our understanding of baryonic physics is essential for the interpretation of ongoing and future cosmological surveys, such as KiDS and Euclid. Using the results for massive clusters as an anchor point, the PhD student will use the sample of galaxy groups from a unique redshift survey to probe the range in halo mass where baryonic effects are expected to be important. The data also allow for new applications of lensing by galaxies, in particular when combined with the precise clustering measurements. Careful comparison of the measurements to the predictions of hydrodynamic simulation will allow us to differentiate between feedback models.