EAS Job Directory
|PhD Position on Exoplanets Orbital Architectures and Evolution at the University of Geneva||Closing date: 2023-09-01
Contact: Vincent Bourrier
|Applications are invited for a research assistant (PhD student) position at the University of Geneva (Department of Astronomy), working with Profs. Vincent Bourrier and Christophe Lovis on the study of orbital architectures of close-in exoplanets via high-resolution transit spectroscopy.|
|Close-in exoplanets undergo complex atmospheric and dynamical processes, such as losing their atmosphere or migrating toward the star outside of their original orbital plane. Neptune-size planets appear to be particularly sensitive to these processes, as evidenced by the Neptunian desert (a lack of hot Neptunes at short orbital period) and savanna (a milder deficit of warm Neptunes at longer periods). These objects are thus ideal tracers to determine the relative roles of early disk-driven and late high-eccentricity migration, and their coupling with atmospheric erosion. These two migration pathways are expected to yield different obliquities (the angle between stellar spin and planetary orbital normal), and our team just obtained a large program on the ESPRESSO spectrograph (ESO VLT, Paranal, Chile), to carry out a census of close-in Neptune obliquities. This program will run over the coming two years, gathering high-resolution transit spectroscopy of ~60 planets over the equivalent of 36 nights of observations. The PhD student will take a leading role in the acquisition, reduction, analysis, and interpretation of ESPRESSO spectra with the main goals of deriving the 3D orbital architecture of the systems and rewinding the history of close-in Neptunes. They will further have access to data from complementary ESPRESSO programs and from the new Near-InfraRed Planet Searcher (NIRPS) (ESO 3.6m telescope, La Silla, Chile). The PhD student will collaborate with local and international experts in transit photometry and stellar activity to exploit the data in the best possible way, and with experts in dynamics and planetary evolution to constrain formation and evolution models with the derived obliquity measurements. This project is expected to change dramatically our understanding of the Neptunian population, and to shed new light on the formation and evolution processes that shape exoplanets.
Setting: The Geneva Observatory offers one of the most vibrant environments worldwide for exoplanet research. The exoplanet team (www.exoplanets.ch) counts nearly 60 members, currently including 11 faculty members, 16 postdoctoral researchers, 16 PhD students, and 16 project staff members. Research topics include exoplanet detection and characterisation (atmospheres, interiors), planetary system dynamics, and instrumentation. Team members are directly involved in a large number of projects, including photometric instruments (CHEOPS, TESS, NGTS, PLATO), high-resolution spectrographs (ESPRESSO, NIRPS, HARPS, HARPS-N, and others), direct imaging (SPHERE) and astrometry (GAIA). The exoplanet team is also part of PlanetS (www.nccr-planets.ch), a Swiss research network focused on exoplanetary science, which includes ~130 scientists from the Universities of Geneva, Bern, Zurich and ETH Zurich. The successful applicant will be able to take advantage of this unique collaborative framework, and to participate in observational runs. The University of Geneva is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in its workplace.
Start date: as soon as possible, but no later than December 2023.
Duration : This is a 4-year position
Salary: ~48,000 CHF/year gross salary, according to rules of the University and Canton of Geneva. This position is funded on the ERC project SPICE DUNE (SpectroPhotometric Inquiry of Close-in Exoplanets around the Desert to Understand their Nature and Evolution).
Deadline: Applications are requested before 1 September 2023. Later applications will be reviewed until the position is filled.
Requirements: A MSc degree in astronomy, astrophysics or related fields. Proficiency in Python, as well as background on exoplanets and high-resolution transit spectroscopy, are considered a plus. The successful applicant will become part of a large and active team with a wide range of expertises. Team playing abilities, dedication, and focus will be valued soft skills.
The following application materials should be sent as a single pdf file to vincent.bourrier @ unige.ch
- A motivation letter including contact details, information on skills and previous experience, and contact information for 2 reference persons (maximum 1 page)
- A curriculum vitae (maximum 2 pages), including a list of publications (if applicable).
- Academic transcripts of master and bachelor grades
Two letters of recommendation should be sent directly to Prof. Bourrier by the referees themselves. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the letters are sent on due date.
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