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PhD Position in Astrophysics of AGNs

Applications are invited for a Ph.D. scholarship in astrophysics at the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center (NCAC) of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Poland.  The 2-year research scholarship is connected with the OPUS project titled "Tools for Period Searching in AGNs in the Era of "Big Data"" (2016/23/B/ST9/03123), financed by the Polish National Science Centre and led by dr Alex Markowitz. The suggested starting date is October 2017.

The research carried out by the student will concern of variability of active galactic nuclei (AGN) revealed in both current and near-future large-area monitoring programmes such as PanSTARRS, LOFAR, LSST, and SKA. Analysis accounting for red noise, may allow the community to robustly confirm whether or not quasi-periodic oscillations (QPOs) exist in AGN. In this way they can constructively impact the assessment of various interpretations of periodic signals in AGN, e.g., the fraction of galaxies hosting binary supermassive black holes, or the fraction of radio-loud AGN with precessing jets.

The student will employ statistical methods commonly used when available data are insufficient for PSD measurement: wavelets, time-domain Bayesian fitting, epoch-folding, and auto-correlation functions. The aim is relying on advanced Monte Carlo simulations to assess how robustly each method can disentangle broad-band red-noise stochastic signals from narrow-band deterministic (quasi- or strictly-periodic) signals. We aim to test, when a QPO is genuinely present, if there is a range in sensitivity detection between the various methods, and to provide guidance on how many observed cycles may be required for statistically robust confirmation of a QPO detection.

The scholarships are intended for prospective Ph.D. students at NCAC. Candidates should hold (or expect to obtain before the start of their scholarship) a university degree (master or equivalent) in the field of astrophysics, astronomy or physics. Knowledge of basics on AGN and their variability and of statistical methods and programming in  Fortran, Python, R (or any equivalent) will be preferred.

Candidates should submit an application including a CV, a copy of the most important diploma (master, engineer, bachelor) including the list of course grades, as well as information on research experience (participation in research projects, publications, awards, etc) and research interests. They should also include at least one recommendation letter.

Applications should be sent in the PDF format at:  recruitment@camk.edu.pl until September 21st, 2017.

Any questions about the competition can be sent to: almarkowitz@camk.edu.pl

This competition is independent from the recruitment for Ph.D. studies at NCAC (https://www.camk.edu.pl/en/phd/).