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Vacancies

**Postdoctoral Researcher for LLAMA**

Faculty of Science Vacancy number: 62.51.16

Project description
The LLAMA project is an Argentine-Brazilian joint initiative, whose purpose is the installation, commissioning and operation of a 12m-diameter antenna in north-western Argentina, at an altitude of 4700 meters and that, like ALMA, will operate in the 35-900 GHz range. First light is expected in 2017. A prominent role for LLAMA will be as part of a South-American VLBI network with e.g. ALMA and APEX and future submm telescopes. By adding long baselines to those of ALMA, it will increase the resolution 10-fold.

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is a worldwide project to realize a submm VLBI array that can image the central Black Hole in our Galaxy and the neighbouring active galaxy M 87 at frequencies of 230 GHz or higher (wavelengths shorter than 1 mm). LLAMA is expected to become a standard participant in future mm-VLBI observations, a field that is currently undergoing a rapid evolution in terms of capabilities and transition to a common-user facility. Receivers for the prime mm-VLBI bands (band-3: 86 GHz and band-6: 221 GHz; and possibly band-7 on a longer timescale) are planned but will likely not be first-light instruments at LLAMA, making it important for LLAMA to avoid further delays and be VLBI-ready and join the mm-VLBI network as soon as band-3 and/or band-6 receivers become available. The EHT and Radboud University's BlackHoleCam project are founding organizations of the more recently formed EHT Consortium that also includes major submm observatories, other stakeholders, and researchers from around the world.

Responsibilities
We are looking for an enthusiastic and motivated postdoc to investigate, develop, and implement a VLBI mode for LLAMA and help prepare LLAMA to join in the BlackHoleCam and EHT observations. We envision that the position will involve significant time both in Brazil and the Netherlands. In the Netherlands the point of contact is at the Radboud University Nijmegen, at the Radboud Radio Lab with Dr. Marc Klein Wolt. In Brazil your point of contact is at the University de São Paulo with Prof. Zulema Abraham.

We aim for this project to start in 2016 in the expectation that practical tests with LLAMA as a single-dish will become possible in 2017. The first phase of this project can already be started now with the design for the key objectives, based on ALMA's telescope control system:

  • 2016/2017: Preliminary design and review for the key objectives. Initial code development.
  • 2017/2018: Critical design review. Code development, implementation and tests of basic functionality.
  • 2018/2019: Build out of mmVLBI capability. Initial 2-3 station baseline tests. Participation in mmVLBI campaigns.

Work environment
The project is coordinated by the team from the Radboud Radio Lab (RRL) of the department of Astrophysics of the Radboud University, in close collaboration with the team of Prof. Zulema Abraham from the University de São Paulo. The RRL consists of a team of engineers and scientists that all have a passion for building instrumentation for Astronomy. Currently the team consist of about 15 people with backgrounds in electrical engineering, software engineering, system engineering, science, and management, and they are involved in both the BlackHoleCam project as for instance the development of the first low-frequency radio instrument to fly on a Chinese satellite that will be placed behind the moon. The team from the University de São Paulo consists of scientist and software engineer that have a long-standing heritage in the domain of radio and mm-observations and are heavily involved in the LLAMA project. The successful candidate will be employed by the RRL but is expected to spend a significant fraction of his/her time both in Brasil and the Netherlands.

What we expect from you

  • Software engineer or scientist with a strong background in software development
  • You have completed a higher vocational technical education, e.g. Master or PhD.
  • You have experience in software development for data analysis for scientific instruments.
  • You have a strong knowledge on either of the following programming and scripting languages: C++, Java, Python.
  • You are familiar with Unix/Linux environments.
  • Experience in the whole software cycle design: analysis, design, coding, documentation, testing, deployment/implementation and maintenance.
  • You have a strong analytical capacity.
  • You have an affinity for data- and information management.
  • You are a motivated self-starter, enterprising and are not afraid of debate.
  • You communicate effectively and clearly, both verbally and in writing, in English and are familiar with working in international environments.
  • Willingness to travel between Europe and Brazil, and to have extended visits to European institutes.

Key objectives for the project are to develop and implement:

  • A VLBI interface for LLAMA. The telescope control software (TCS) for LLAMA will be based on ALMA's with adaptations for single-dish operation. ALMA's TCS does not come with suitable mode for single-dish VLBI observing. In particular an interface will need to be written that can take a standard VLBI scheduling file (a VEX file) and automatically execute it on the telescope based on UT the UT timestamps. It will need to synchronize observing and data recording while flagging any fault conditions.
  • A VLBI observing mode for LLAMA. Single-dish observing modes involve either chopping on or scanning over the sky in order to remove atmospheric fluctuations. This is not needed for VLBI observations. Also, typically, the observing frequency is continuously corrected for doppler shifts to compensate for Earth's rotation and orbit: also this is not done during VLBI.
  • A system to collect and archive the necessary meta-data: VLBI's high data rates require data acquisition to dedicated special purpose recorders that by-pass the regular backend and don't result in standard observing products. Consequently meta-data, i.e. information that normally ends up in observation file headers, needs to be collected and archived by different means (housekeeping data or system health management).
  • A local interface that can communicate with a central remote VLBI node e.g. for reception of and updates to scheduling file, return status and monitoring information as well as snap-shot VLBI data of calibrators for near real-time fringe verification (eVLBI: submm data rates are too high for continuous etransfer).

And in addition, depending on technical developments and resources:

  • Oversee the addition of a VLBI mode in the observing proposal system of LLAMA
  • To guide and oversee the installation of VLBI equipment at LLAMA in close communication with other participants of submm VLBI networks.
  • Carry out initial 2 or 3-station VLBI tests (e.g. with ALMA and APEX) once technically feasible.

Act as “Friend of VLBI” for subsequent science observations with e.g. ALMA, the EHT and other submm VLBI networks.

Desirables:

  • Familiarity with the CORBA notification software package.
  • A background in astronomy and, in particular, radio astronomy.
  • Familiarity with astronomical observatories.
  • Proficient in either Spanish or Portuguese.

What we have to offer:

  • employment: 1,0 fte;
  • a maximum gross monthly salary of € 3,996 based on a 38-hour working week (salary scale 10);
  • in addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • salary will depend on training and work experience;
  • duration of the contract: 3 years;
  • you will be classified as a Postdoctoral Researcher 4 in the Dutch university job-ranking system (UFO).

Are you interested in our excellent employment conditions?
Would you like to know more?
For more information about this vacancy, please contact:

Dr. Marc Klein Wolt, director of RRL Telephone: +31 24 3652015 E-mail: M.KleinWolt@astro.ru.nl

Are you interested? Use the button on the vacancie site of the RU. Your application should include (and be limited to) the following attachment(s):

  • Letter of motivation
  • CV


Radboud Excellence Fellowship

This call is open until October 5, 2016

Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, annually invites applications for the Radboud Excellence Fellowship. The fellowship is for a duration of 2 yrs. The fellowship is for independent research in any of the excellence areas of the university, and in particular, for this call, any topic in astrophysics and astroparticle physics.

The successful fellow will be integrated into the Department of Astrophysics, which is part of the Institute of Mathematics, Astrophysics and Particle Physics. The vibrant department consists of 13 faculty, ~15 postdocs, ~25 PhD students. Research activities are concentrated in the fields of supermassive and stellar-mass black holes, jets, compact binaries, optical and radio transients, gravitational-wave and radio astronomy, stellar and binary evolution, stellar clusters, Galactic structure and magnetic fields, cosmic-rays and astroparticle physics, and asteroseismology. The department is part of the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA), is a member of the Virgo consortium for gravitational wave detections and the Pierre Auger Observatory for cosmic-ray detections, has access to major (inter)national research facilities (ESO, ESA, LOFAR/WSRT, ING telescopes, etc.), as well to major computer facilities, either via a local cluster or national supercomputing facilities.

The Radboud Excellence Fellowship is a university-wide initiative, where fellows are expected, apart from their own research, to actively engage in an interdisciplinary/cultural program with fellows in other departments. Radboud University appoints ~20 fellows per year. Applications consist of a three-page work plan, two letters of reference, a curriculum vitae and a list of publications including a pdf-version of the two publications the fellow feels most connected to. The candidate must hold a PhD in astronomy or physics, obtained between 2 and 10 years before the closing date of the call.

Selection will commence on October 5, 2016 and will be a two-stage process. After an initial selection at the Department of Astrophysics the applications of the top candidates will be forwarded to the university-wide program. The selection committee is interdisciplinary (with no astronomers) so the research plan should be appealing to non-specialists. The first down select will take place before October 15, 2016. Selection by the university is expected in December 2016.

The fellow will be part of the collective labour agreement (CAO) of the Dutch universities, scale 11 (3200-4500 Euro gross/month, depending on age and experience). Secondary labor benefits such as health insurance, relocation cost reimbursements, holiday, end-of-year allowances, and a retirement scheme are included. The fellow will additionally hold a 6000 Euro/yr research grant.

The closing date of this call is October 5, 2016. Additional information can be obtained by contacting Prof. Paul Groot (p.groot@astro.ru.nl). Applications are to be sent, by email only and in PDF format, to secr@astro.ru.nl, with subject line: 'Application Radboud Fellowship'. Letters of reference can be included in the applications, or be sent directly by the referees, before the closing date, to the above submission email address. Information on the Radboud Excellence Initiative can be found at the Excellence website.

Two Postdoctoral Positions and two PhD positions on double neutron stars/black holes

Applications are invited for two 2+1 year postdoctoral positions and two PhD positions at Radboud University in the Netherlands to work in the group of Gijs Nelemans on the formation of double neutron stars/black holes. The project aims to use population modelling and data from Gaia, pulsars, supernovae, radio pulsars and gravitational wave detections to constrain the various evolutionary phases.

The successful applicants will work in the following areas (subject to changes based on interest/expertise). PD1: Supernovae/radio pulsars, PD2: Joint EM-GW analysis, PhD1: High-Mass X-ray binaries, PhD2: double NS/BH. The PDs are encouraged to also pursue their own research programs.

The Department of Astrophysics, is part of the Institute of Mathematics, Astrophysics and Particle Physics. The vibrant department consists of 13 faculty, ~15 postdocs, ~25 PhD students. Research activities focus on high-energy astrophysics, cosmic-rays, gravitational waves, stellar and binary evolution, clusters and the Milky Way.

The positions are part of the collective labour agreement (CAO) of the Dutch universities, with gross/month salaries of 3000-4300 Euro depending on experience for the post-docs), 2100-2750 Euro for the PhDs.

Previous experience with stellar and binary evolution, supernovae, pulsars or gravitational waves is preferred. The PD applicants should have a PhD in astronomy or physics, the PhD applicants a MSc. Additional information can be obtained by contacting Gijs Nelemans (nelemans@astro.ru.nl).

To apply, email a cover letter, CV and brief research statement to secr@astro.ru.nl. Also please arrange for 3 letters of references (PDFs) to be emailed secr@astro.ru.nl. Complete applications received by September 1st, 2016 will receive full consideration. We encourage applications from women, racial and ethnic minorities, and individuals with disabilities.

PhD position in Astrostatistics

Applications are invited for a PhD position in Astrostatistics at Radboud University in the Netherlands. The position is joint between the stochastics group of Eric Cator and the astrophysics group of Gijs Nelemans. The aim of the project is to develop, study and use statistical tools to optimally compare models for the evolution of massive binaries into double neutron stars and black holes, to a wide range of (inhomogeneous) observational data. With these tools we want to determine or constrain the outcome of various uncertain evolutionary processes and validate the model. We also want to develop statistical theory for these new tools in this challenging setting.

We are looking for a MSc student with a strong background in mathematics/statistics and an interest in astrophysics. The research takes place within the Institute of Mathematics, Astrophysics and Particle Physics and the PhD student is expected to be involved both in the department of Astrophysics and in the Applied Stochastics group within the department of Mathematics. The PhD student is expected to dedicate 10% if her/his time to teaching assistance, most likely in mathematics.

For more information on this project, contact Eric Cator (E.Cator@science.ru.nl) or Gijs Nelemans (nelemans@astro.ru.nl)

To apply, email a cover/motivation letter and CV to secr@astro.ru.nl. Also please arrange for 3 letters of references (PDFs) to be emailed to secr@astro.ru.nl. Complete applications received by September 1st, 2016 will receive full consideration. We encourage applications from women, racial and ethnic minorities, and individuals with disabilities.

More information: IMAPP: www.ru.nl/imapp Astrophysics: www.astro.ru.nl Mathematics: www.ru.nl/math/

Two Postdoctoral Positions in Gravitational and Compact Object Astrophysics

Applications are invited for two postdoctoral positions at Radboud University in the Netherlands to work on gravitational wave astrophysics and/on electromagnetic counterparts. One position is to work directly with Samaya Nissanke and the other is to work jointly with Gijs Nelemans and Samaya Nissanke. The primary responsibilities of the positions are to lead research projects in gravitational wave astrophysics and electromagnetic counterparts. Researchers working in the areas of theory, observation or instrumentation are invited to apply.

The successful applicants will contribute to several current research programs in gravitational wave astronomy in the group of Gijs Nelemans and Samaya Nissanke, and will work within our collaborations with gravitational wave detectors (e.g., Virgo, LIGO) and with high-energy/optical/radio telescopes (e.g., BlackGEM, https://astro.ru.nl/blackgem/; MeerLICHT, http://www.ast.uct.ac.za/meerlicht/MeerLICHT.html; LOFAR, http://www.lofar.org). They will also be encouraged to develop and pursue their own research programs.

In addition, the positions will be integrated into the Department of Astrophysics, which is part of the Institute of Mathematics, Astrophysics and Particle Physics. Complementary research activities in the vibrant department are concentrated in the fields of supermassive and stellar-mass black holes, jets, compact binaries, optical and radio transients, stellar and binary evolution, stellar clusters, cosmic-rays and astroparticle physics, and asteroseismology. The department is part of the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA), and has access to major (inter)national research facilities (ESO, ESA, LOFAR/WSRT, ING telescopes, etc.), as well as to major computer facilities, either via a local cluster or national supercomputing facilities.

The postdocs will be part of the collective labour agreement (CAO) of the Dutch universities, scale 10 (2500-3900 Euro gross/month, depending on age and experience). Secondary labor benefits such as health insurance, holiday, end-of-year allowances, and a retirement scheme are included.

Previous experience with gravitational wave astrophysics and/or electromagnetic counterparts is preferred but not required. Applicants should have a PhD in astronomy or physics on arrival. The appointments are intended for an initial period of two years, with renewal for a third year contingent upon satisfactory progress and funding. The starting date for the positions would normally start in September 2016 or earlier. Additional information can be obtained by contacting Samaya Nissanke (samaya@astro.ru.nl).

To apply, email a single PDF containing:

  • a cover letter
  • a current CV, and a list of publications
  • a brief (up to 3 pages) research statement of your scientific interests and how you would specifically contribute to research on gravitational wave astrophysics and/or electromagnetic counterparts.

Also please arrange for 3 letters of references (PDFs) to be emailed to samaya@astro.ru.nl. Complete applications received by January 15th, 2016 will receive full consideration. Women and members of other underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.