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Summer student programme 2017

Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center (CAMK PAN) offers an opportunity to participate in our scientific research under a guidance of a staff member in Warsaw or Toruń.


We invite 2nd, 3rd, or 4th year undergraduate physics or astronomy students (in exceptional circumstances we would accept younger students). The duration of an individual programme should be 4-6 weeks. Students living outside Warsaw or Torun can apply for an accommodation in student houses.


CAMK PAN offers no remuneration for participating in the programme. Student can be paid by his/her supervisor, from the supervisor's grant funds.


Students interested in participating in our programme should first contact the potential supervisor and agree on the exact time and duration of the programme. An application should be then submitted, giving at least the supervisor's name, duration of the programme, marks for the lectures and course taken, application for accommodation if necessary. All additional information about student extracurricular activities is welcome (participation in observational programms, schools, conferences, scientific publications, etc). Applications should be submitted in PDF form to Deadline for applications is May 7th, 2017. The selection procedure will be completed by May 31st, 2017. The successful candidates will be informed by email.


Possible subjects:


1. Connection between accretion and jets in microquasars

We consider here binaries containing a normal star and a black hole in which matter from the star flows (accretes) towards the black hole. Usually, a fraction of the matter does enter the black hole but instead flows away from the plane of the binary forming twin jets. Such systems are called microquasars. Both the accretion flow and the jets radiate, and usually dominate the emission in the X-ray and radio ranges, respectively. The relationship between the accretion flow and the jet can then be studied, e.g., by directly correlating the two emissions, or by searching for time lags, which are expected given that the matter first accretes and then forms the jet. Furthermore, if the normal star has high mass, it emits stellar wind, which can absorb the radio emission, with the attenuation depending on the orbital phase. This may be used to determine the jet direction, which is expected to follow the black-hole rotation axis, which may differ from the normal to the binary plane. Possible summer projects consist of analysing correlations between the radio and X-ray emissions in some microquasars, and determining the jet inclination with respect to the binary plane from the wind modulation.


Supervisor: Prof. Andrzej Zdziarski (, CAMK Warsaw
Time: July-September TBD


2. General relativistic resistive MHD numerical simulations of accretion disk

To simulate an accretion disk around a compact astronomical object, general relativity needs to be included in the code. Using the Harm or similar code, we will import our successful non-relativistic setup for the Kluzniak-Kita axisymmetric 2D MHD disk into the general relativistic scheme. Goal is to compare the relativistic and non-relativistic results for the neutron star case, with the stellar dipole magnetic field of 10^8 Gauss.

The project consists in understanding the accretion process, learning to
run the code, performing of the simulations, visualisation and analysis of
the results.

Supervisor: Dr Miljenko Cemeljic (, CAMK Warsaw
Time: July and August, 4-6 weeks

3. Galactic archaeology: studying the Galactic halo with large surveys

Understanding how 
our Galaxy formed and evolved, and how the stellar populations formed and evolved, is one fundamental goal of modern astrophysics. In this context, the Galactic halo is the most useful stellar population. The halo contains the oldest and most metal-poor stars, which give a unique window to the early stages of Galactic star formation.

There are two 
possible projects for the summer of 2017:

Where are, how many are, and where to find metal-poor stars?

The student will assist in developing a method to identify metal-poor stars from their photometric properties. The first step is to simulate the photometric information of large numbers of stars of different masses, ages, and metallicities.The student will then investigate which photometric colorsbest relate to the metallicity of a star, identify candidate metal-poor stars and check if they were properly analyzed in spectroscopic surveys.

Digging to separate halo stars from thick disk stars

The student will study the properties of metal-poor stars in spectroscopic surveys. Metal-poor stars might belong to two different components of our Galaxy, the halo and the thick disk. Tstudy the Galactic halo, we first need to properly identify the stars that belong to it. Metallicity only is not enough, we also need to study the velocities and orbits of these stars. The student will calculate these velocities and orbits, and apply different statistical methods of analysis tofind the best way to separate the halo stars from the thick disk stars.

See the webpage
or more details on the projects, or contact the supervisor.

Supervisor: Dr Rodolfo Smiljanic (, CAMK Warsaw
Time: July-September TBD


4. Kinetic simulations of magnetic reconnection

The goal of this project is introduction to kinetic numerical simulations of the process of magnetic reconnection using the particle-in-cell (PIC) method. Reconnection is a process of dissipation of magnetic energy with broad applications to high-energy astrophysics. The starting point would be analysis of simulation results including the description of particle acceleration and production of radiation during reconnection. The project may be expanded to include preparation and execution of PIC simulations by the student.

Supervisor: Dr Krzysztof Nalewajko (, CAMK Warsaw
Time: September TBD


5. Analysis of the OGLE photometry for classical pulsating stars

Classical pulsators, Cepheids and RR Lyrae stars, show a variety of interesting, newly discovered pulsation forms: multiperiodic oscillations, including pulsation in non-radial modes or long-term quasi-periodic modulation of pulsation. The student will analyse the OGLE photometry for classical pulsators in order to detect these phenomena and to analyse their properties.


Supervisor: Dr Radosław Smolec (, CAMK Warszawa
Time: July-September (4 weeks) TBD


6. Evolution of X-ray spectral-timing properties of a BHXRB during outburst 

Black hole X-ray binaries (BHXRB) are systems containing a black hole (BH) of a few solar masses.  These sources are normally in a low X-ray luminosity, “quiescent” state, occasionally interrupted by outbursts of activity. During the outburst both the timing and spectral properties of the emitted X-ray radiation change dramatically over time scales of weeks-months. These variations are thought to be the consequence of major changes in the physical properties of the inner accretion flow. This project aims at constraining the X-ray spectral-timing properties of the inner accretion flow in a BHXRB during outburst. The project will require reduction of archival X-ray data from space observatories (e.g. XMM-Newton and RXTE), the use of Fourier techniques for timing analysis, and the use of models for spectral fitting of BHXRB X-ray data.

Supervisor: Dr Barbara De Marco (, CAMK Warsaw
Time: June-July TBD


7. X-ray variability of radio-loud AGN

Variability of the emitted radiation is one of the defining properties of active galactic nuclei (AGN). The X-ray band is where some of the most intense flux variations are observed. X-ray variability is well studied for radio quiet AGN. This project focuses on extending the characterization of X-ray variability to the class of radio-loud AGN, characterized by the presence of a jet. The project will require reduction of archival X-ray data from space observatories to obtain light curves. We will make use of X-ray timing techniques and statistical methods for time series analysis. The outcome of this study will be used to carry out a comparative analysis of radio-quiet/loud AGN variability properties.

Supervisor: Dr Barbara De Marco (, CAMK Warsaw
Time: June-July TBD


8. Mock Observations of Eclipsing Binaries in Simulated Star Clusters

Variable stars have been extremely useful in understanding stellar formation and evolution. Observations of eclipsing binaries in dense stellar systems like globular clusters provide direct distance estimates and can also help to constrain the turn-off masses in these systems. In this project, the student will work on simulating mock observations of results of numerical star cluster simulations using the COCOA code. The main task of the project will be to further develop the COCOA code by accurately computing changes in magnitude for binary stars that will eclipse each other during periodic observations.
COCOA creates synthetic observational data from the projected snapshot of a star cluster simulation, it can also be used to create a sequence of projected snapshots in which positions of stars in binaries can be tracked. When these positions of stars in some these binaries will overlap during the eclipses, the total magnitude of the binary will decrease which will be detectable through photometry of the mock observations. By doing this, it will be possible to compare the population of eclipsing binaries in simulated star cluster models with real observations. Programming experience particularly in Python along with knowledge of reducing photometric observations will be particularly helpful for the implementation of this task.


Supervisor: Dr Mirosław Giersz (, CAMK Warsaw
Time: July-September (4-6 weeks) TBD


9. Astronomical instrumentation in application to space sector

The “Solaris” network of robotic telescopes offers considerable opportunities for development and deployment of small astronomical instruments. Additionally, this is supported by a recent opening of a laboratory at CAMK Toruń fully equipped to carry out small instrumentation projects. Telescopes of our network are capable of observing satellites and space debris on all orbits (LEO-GEO). The project may encompass contributions to  (1) development of instruments enhancing the capabilities of our telescopes to observe and characterize resident space objects (RSO, this involves lab work), (2) undertaking observing campaigns to detect, monitor and catalogue RSOs (this includes writing pieces of software, data reduction).

Supervisor: Prof. Maciej Konacki (, CAMK Toruń
Time: June-mid September (4-6 weeks) TBD