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Rekrutacja 2022/2023

Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center invites applications for astronomy and astrophysics PhD studies and related fellowship competitions

The Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center (CAMK PAN), a leading institute of the GeoPlanet Doctoral School, offers the opportunity to carry out graduate studies leading to a PhD degree in astronomy. The PhD studies are related to subjects pursued at CAMK PAN including observational and theoretical astrophysics as well as cosmology. Our senior scientists participate in the H.E.S.S., CTA, and VIRGO/LIGO projects and are involved in instrumental projects concerning the astronomical satellites SPICA, UVSat, and ATHENA. CAMK PAN represents the Polish astronomical community in the SALT consortium which operates an 11-m optical telescope in South Africa. The Center's scientists are leading participants in the Polish scientific satellite project, BRITE, dedicated to precise stellar brightness measurements, and in the project ARAUCARIA, dedicated to the calibration of the cosmological distance scale. They also operate SOLARIS – a network of southern hemisphere small robotic telescopes committed to stellar astronomy and the search for exoplanets.

Studies last 4 years and begin on October 1, 2022. During the 4-year period, students are required to take specific courses, lectures (including interdisciplinary lectures) and participate in seminars, as well as prepare the doctoral thesis. All seminars and lectures are in English. The regulations of the doctoral school, including the program of the Studies, are posted on the CAMK PAN web page about PhD studies.

Students are based and take their courses in Warsaw or in Toruń according to the location of their supervisors. Students based in Warsaw may apply for accommodation in the hotel run by our Center.

An information about the proposed research topics and their supervisors is attached to this announcement. Candidates can apply for up to three topics, supervised by a maximum of two supervisors, but should indicate the preferred topic. Before applying, candidates should contact their potential supervisors to obtain more details on the proposals.

Students in the doctoral school receive a scholarship for the period of 4 years. The minimum amount of scholarship as set in the Law on higher education and science is 2370 PLN/month, gross, before the mid-term evaluation (years 1–2) and 3650 PLN/month, gross, after the positive mid-term evaluation (years 3–4). For projects related to research grants a higher scholarship is available. Details are given in the description of each project. For projects with external funding, recruitment for the doctoral school is accompanied by a scholarship competition, according to the specific rules of the project. Separate ranking lists will be considered for each offered project.


For the application, candidates should provide their complete application documents including:

  1. The application for admission to the doctoral school together with GDPR statement (following the templates available for download in the online application form; address given below).
  2. A copy of their master’s/university and bachelor’s degree diplomas. In case master’s degree diploma is not yet available, it must be provided before the candidate is admitted to the school.
  3. A transcript of grades (Bachelor and Master Courses).
  4. A Curriculum Vitae including an education and employment records, list of publications, information on involvement in scientific activities – membership in scientific groups/societies, participation in scientific conferences, internships and training, awards and distinctions.
  5. A letter of motivation containing a short description of the candidate's interests and scientific achievements, and justification of the intention to undertake education at the Doctoral School.
  6. English language certificate(s), if available.

 

All documents should be in the PDF format, including scans, and should be submitted via an

on-line application form

by March 14th, 2022.

In addition, at least one recommendation letter should be sent directly by the referee to: phdstudies@camk.edu.pl, before the application deadline.

The Recruitment Board will select candidates for the interview, which will take place on March 28th –  April 8th, 2022 (9 am – 4 pm, CEST). Decisions about admission will be made by the end of April 2022 and all the candidates will be notified by e-mail. For additional information contact the coordinator of the doctoral school, Dr. Radosław Smolec (smolec@camk.edu.pl) or the Center’s secretary office (Ms. Katarzyna Morawska, kasia@camk.edu.pl).

 

Warsaw, January 21st, 2022

 

 

Attachment: Proposed topics of PhD theses:


Subject: Calm before the storm: rethinking the gravitational-wave analysis toolbox in the face of future challenges.


Supervisor: Dr hab. Michał Bejger (contact: bejger@camk.edu.pl)


Although only 6 years old, gravitational-wave (GW) astrophysics is now an exciting, expanding branch of astronomy, with a number of breakthrough discoveries: the binary neutron star (NS) system merger accompanied by a short gamma-ray burst and a kilonova, highly-asymmetric mass ratio binary systems composed of black holes (BHs) and NS-mass objects, very massive BH system, with the intermediate mass BH final remnant, evidence of objects populating mass gaps etc. These observations are cornerstones of novel studies on the NS dense-matter equation of state, rates and populations of compact objects, GW Hubble constant cosmology, tests of theories of gravity, to mention just a few.

 

The 2nd generation (''Advanced Era'') LIGO and Virgo global network of detectors will soon be expanded by the Japanese KAGRA; the LVK Collaboration will further improve its capabilities. Current 90 binary inspiral and merger events will be augmented by next hundreds at the end of the incoming LVK O4 run, and by thousands after the O5 run. Compact binaries are however only a ''tip of the iceberg''. Still undiscovered types of GWs include long-lasting continuous waves (CW), whose amplitudes and frequencies change much slower over time: they are persistently present in the sensitive frequency range of the detector, as opposed to transient GW signals which rapidly evolve in frequency on their last few or tens of orbits before the merger. Astrophysically, interesting CW sources are rotating, non-axisymmetric NS. A discovery of a steady CW emitted by a NS would allow to study elastic, magnetic and superfluid properties of matter in conditions very different from those occurring in mergers of binary systems, as well as carry out additional tests of gravity theories, perform calibration and allow for repeatable studies, and will open a new chapter in GW astronomy.

 

Future 3rd generation detectors are currently devised: the US-based Cosmic Explorer and the European-based Einstein Telescope (ET). Order-of-magnitude increase in sensitivity will yield literally millions of detections per year. GWs will routinely overlap in sky positions and in time, and their observed duration will be days and not seconds like now, because the sensitivity window will extend down to 1 Hz instead of tens of Hz now. ''Transient GWs'' of today will appear much more like CWs, when registered by the ET.

 

Incoming embarras de richesses of the future data, and their potential for groundbreaking discoveries is motivating this PhD project. We will explore and implement not only quantitatively but qualitatively-different solutions, enhancing GW data analysis (DA) by machine learning (ML) techniques developed at the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center to be later used by the GW community.

 

The successful applicant will develop and implement ML enhancements to the CW Time Domain F-statistic pipeline (github.com/mbejger/polgraw-allsky), in order to exploit characteristic features of the F-statistic to improve detection of weak CW signals with complicated morphology (e.g. wandering frequency), use ML denoising techniques to distinguish true astrophysical CW signals from instrumental artifacts, automatically estimate their parameters, and perform rapid follow up with the Markov chain methods supplemented by the information on the F-statistic shape. We will adjust our CW methods to alternative sources, i.e. long inspirals of compact binaries (e.g. hypothetical light primordial BHs), post-merger hot NS remnant signals, and cases of overlapping signals (in sky and in frequency space). These improvements will be supported by astrophysical simulations of NS with specific dense-matter features, in order to establish ranges of signal-to-noise, measurement errors and number of detections needed to credibly assess elastic properties, tidal effects, modes of oscillation, or existence of dense-matter phase transitions. We will perform both detailed numerical-relativity simulations, and DA of simulations of future data sets to determine the requirements needed by future detectors, e.g. for ET.

 

The candidate should have a strong background in astrophysics and programming, and experience in the computational methods and statistics. Experience in ML will be a definitive advantage.  


Funding:  Additional scholarship paid by the Institute, to amount to total of 5000 PLN/month, gross, during the first year. For the following years, the amount of the scholarship will depend on the availability of funding - contact the supervisor for details.


Location: Warsaw

 


Subject: Stellar astrophysics - analysis of satellite-borne photometry and high-resolution spectroscopy of detached eclipsing binaries (DEBs).


Supervisor: Dr hab. Krzysztof Hełminiak (contact: xysiek@ncac.torun.pl)


The aim of the project is to obtain high-precision (<1%) fundamental stellar parameters for components of selected detached eclipsing binaries. This will be done by producing models of these binaries on the basis of quality spectroscopic material and very high precision, satellite-based photometry from the TESS mission. These results will be a base for further analysis, aimed for obtaining ages, chemical composition or distances to the systems. Results will be published in refereed journals (ApJ, MNRAS, A&A) and included in the newly created catalogue of eclipsing systems TSEBOOLA.

 

About 250 various DEBs with spectroscopic and photometric data are ready for analysis, and the successful candidate can focus on one or more specific topics from the list below:
- high-mass (M>3 Msun) stars in DEBs,
- benchmark systems in PLATO fields (preparation for the PLATO mission),
- DEBs in multiple systems,
- pre-main-sequence stars in DEBs,
- the candidate's own topic of interest, if sufficient data are currently available (in such case the applicant is encouraged to first contact Prof. Krzysztof Hełminiak xysiek@ncac.torun.pl).

 

These tasks can be enhanced with new observations, including, but not limited to: a) multi-band photometry with the "Solaris" network, which consists of 4 robotic telescopes (0.5-m, 2 in South Africa, one in Argentina and one in Australia) with Johnson-Cousins (UBVRI) and Sloan (u'g'r'i'z') filter sets; b) high-resolution spectroscopy from the HRS instrument at the SALT telescope, the CHIRON instrument at the SMARTS 1.5m telescope, or facilities available through open ESO and OPTICON calls for proposals.

 

The successful applicant will be located in Torun. She/he will use current or future tools for spectral disentangling (e.g. FD3), analysis (e.g. iSpec, GSSP), and eclipsing binary modelling (JKTEBOP, PHOEBE2), and is expected to present results in international conferences and peer-reviewed publications. Other requirements:
- coding in Python 3 (strongly preferred), IDL, or other popular language,
- basics of PostgreSQL and data base handling,
- basic knowledge of observational techniques and data reduction,
- own experience in spectroscopy and/or photometry is welcome (although not strictly required),
- knowledge of the English language, allowing to work in an international environment.


Funding:  Additional scholarship paid by the Institute, to amount to total of 5000 PLN/month, gross, during the first year. For the following years, the amount of the scholarship will depend on the availability of funding - contact the supervisor for details.


Location: Toruń

 

 


Subject: Development of a new numerical code that would simultaneously model all X-ray fingerprints of accreting compact objects taking into account the matter structure.


Supervisor: Prof. dr hab. Agata Różańska (contact: agata@camk.edu.pl)


Cosmic compact objects are the most extreme objects in the Universe, accumulating enormous amount of mass in a small space. Accretion of gas onto compact object, either onto black hole or neutron star, is one of the most powerful way of energy production in the Universe, which  is than converted into electromagnetic flux. Such electromagnetic flux is successfully observed in the X-ray domain by most advanced X-ray space mission. Observations commonly show five characteristic fingerprints which are visible from accreting compact objects across masses.

 

The proposed PhD project is related to the numerical simulations of models emitted by hot plasma in the neighbourhood of compact objects. The PhD student will be involved in the development of a new code that would simultaneously model all X-ray fingerprints taking into account the matter structure. As a result, we would obtain the emission spectra depending on viewing angle, taking into account all important processes occurring in the illuminated gas. In addition, the same code will model the absorption of radiation by the warm gas on the line of sight toward observer. We plan to use most advanced computational algorithms to obtain our science goal. The X-ray fingerprints studied by us will allow to answer fundamental question: is there a uniform model of accretion geometry responsible for all fingerprints and what is it?

 

From the very beginning, the numerical work will be accompanied by the work with  observations and simulations of signal for future X-ray missions which are made by other team members. At the end of the project, our advanced models will be ready to use  at the time when accreting  sources will be observed by most advanced future X-ray telescopes.


Funding: Scholarship from the National Science Center, OPUS project, number 2021/41/B/ST9/04110,  entitled "X-ray fingerprints of accreting compact objects", led by prof. Agata Różańska. Scholarship in the total amount of 5000 PLN/month, gross, is available for 4 years. 


Location: Warsaw

 

 

 


Subject: Observations of X-ray fingerprints from accreting compact objects – towards  the common model of the gas distribution and dynamic in the vicinity of black holes.


Supervisor: Prof. dr hab. Agata Różańska (contact: agata@camk.edu.pl)


Cosmic compact objects are the most extreme objects in the Universe, accumulating enormous amount of mass in a small space. Accretion of gas onto compact object, either onto black hole or neutron star, is one of the most powerful way of energy production in the Universe, which  is than converted into electromagnetic flux. Such electromagnetic flux is successfully observed in the X-ray domain by most advanced X-ray space mission. Observations commonly show five characteristic fingerprints which are visible from accreting compact objects across masses.

 

The proposed PhD project is related to the observations of the hot plasma in the neighbourhood of compact objects. The PhD student will be collecting the most recent data in order to find all X-ray fingerprints from compact objects across masses. As a result we will collect and analyse new data from current X-ray missions, discovering new features which were never observed before. We plan to create a comprehensive summary on X-ray fingerprints which are observed in accreting compact objects of different masses in order to establish a common model of gas distribution and dynamics in the vicinity of black holes. The X-ray fingerprints studied by us will allow to answer fundamental question: is there a uniform model of accretion geometry responsible for all fingerprints and what is it?

 

From the very beginning, the observational work will be accompanied by the computations of relevant emission models and simulations of signal for future X-ray missions which are made by other team members. At the end of the project, our advanced models will be ready to use  at the time when accreting  sources will be observed by most advanced future X-ray telescopes.


Funding: Scholarship from the National Science Center, OPUS project, number 2021/41/B/ST9/04110,  entitled "X-ray fingerprints of accreting compact objects", led by prof. Agata Różańska. Scholarship in the total amount of 5000 PLN/month, gross, is available for 4 years. 


Location: Warsaw

 


Subject: Development of cryogenic photodetectors and readout electronics for Dark Matter direct searches.


Supervisor: Dr. Masayuki Wada (contact: masayuki@camk.edu.pl)


In rare event search experiments, such as dark matter searches and neutrinoless double beta decay searches, background event rates need to be suppressed below expected signal rates. In order to reach ultimate sensitivities for those searches, background contributions from detector components need to be suppressed. In this project, we focus on the photodetection part of detectors (silicon-based photodetector modules and readout electronics), which has applications in medical scanners such as a PET scanner as well.


This project involves research on different aspects of the Silicon-based photodetector in cryogenic temperature including characterization of the photodetector, handling cryogenic systems, and performing GEANT4 simulation for applications in dark matter searches and medical scanners.

 

Funding:  Additional scholarship paid by the Institute, to amount to total of 5000 PLN/month, gross, during the first year. For the following years, the amount of the scholarship will depend on the availability of funding - contact the supervisor for details.


Location: Warsaw




Subject: Study on low energy events in liquid argon for dark matter searches.


Supervisor: Dr. Masayuki Wada (contact: masayuki@camk.edu.pl)


Today, dark matter represents the first evidence for new physics beyond the Standard Model, which is extremely successful to explain all observed phenomena in experimental particle physics, including the recent discovery of the Higgs boson. Currently, DarkSide, a liquid argon-based direct dark matter search experiment, has world-leading sensitivity for light dark matter candidates. The detailed characterization and understanding of low energy events in liquid argon are essential to extend the sensitivity to lighter dark matter particles.

 

This project involves research on different aspects of the liquid-argon Time Projection Chamber (TPC) including designing and building of TPC, handling cryogenic system, simulating detector response using GEANT4, data acquisition, and analysis to draw physics results. Within this project, measurement of low-energy nuclear recoils and low energy backgrounds originating from trace amounts of impurities in liquid argon will be performed. 

 

Funding:  Additional scholarship paid by the Institute, to amount to total of 5000 PLN/month, gross, during the first year. For the following years, the amount of the scholarship will depend on the availability of funding - contact the supervisor for details.


Location: Warsaw



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