Applications are invited for 1 PhD position at the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center of the Polish Science Academy (CAMK PAN), in Warsaw, Poland, in the fields of pulsating and binary stars. CAMK PAN is the leading astrophysical institute in Poland, hosting about 50 staff researchers and 30 PhD students. CAMK PAN scientists participate in many international projects.
A successful applicant will join the doctoral school at CAMK PAN and will work with Dr. Bogumił Pilecki (the Principal Investigator) on the project “Understanding Cepheids: physical and empirical basis for our main tool for distance determination in the Universe”. The position will be funded from a Polish National Science Center (NCN) SONATA BIS research grant (UMO-2020/38/E/ST9/00486). Generous funding for travel and excellent working environment is secured. This position is offered for four years.
Classical Cepheids are successfully being used to measure distances in the Universe for over a century, but our understanding of their physical properties and evolution is still very limited. It was not a problem when measurements (distances, Hubble constant) were done with 10%-precision, but currently precision of 1% or less is necessary to solve the most pressing problems in astrophysics (e.g. the Hubble tension).
Our knowledge of Cepheid astrophysics has started to improve only recently with the first precise measurements of the masses and radii obtained by our group from the analysis of Cepheids in eclipsing binary systems. However, only a few such measurements are available now, and there are still many open problems to be solved. We want to improve our understanding of these important stars through a detailed investigation of about 50 newly discovered Cepheids in binary systems. This will consist of measurements of their physical and atmospheric properties (some of them for the first time), and the study of their multiplicity and binary interactions. Photometric observations will be performed in our dedicated observatory located at Cerro Armazones in Chile (this observatory will be soon expanded with 4 new telescopes in the 0.8–2.5m range), while for the spectroscopic observations the best world-class telescopes (Magellan, VLT, etc.) and instruments will be utilized. For the analysis, we will use modern tools and novel methods that were never applied before. The project will be performed within the Araucaria group in a large international collaboration (Chile, France, Switzerland, Germany, USA, Austria, Italy). The group consists of about 15 astronomers in CAMK PAN and about 20 in other countries.
The successful applicant will participate in observations (mostly in Chile), data analysis, software development, and is expected to regularly present and publish the results. The student will have the possibility to work on spectroscopic analysis (including SED fitting), modeling of selected new Cepheids in binary systems, and on evolutionary models of studied Cepheids and their companions. During the project, software modification and development will be necessary, so high computer and programming skills are expected, including the knowledge of a modern programming language (e.g. Python). Creativity, experience in observations, analysis of observational data, and any of the topics related to the project, would be an asset.
Scholarship in the total amount of 5000 PLN/month, gross, is available for 4 years.
For full consideration, applications should be received by 31 July 2021.
See details in the official announcement of the supplementary recruitment for the doctoral school.