PhD scholarship in X-ray observations of neutron stars

DTU Space
tirsdag 08 aug 17

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Frist 1. oktober 2017
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The Section for Astrophysics and Atmospheric Physics at DTU Space offers a PhD position in observational X-ray astrophysics of neutron stars.
The proposed PhD project will be part of the research on compact objects conducted by the group of Astrophysics, principally observations of neutron stars in X-ray binaries. Neutron stars embody the most compact objects one can observe in the Universe, and their interior structure, described by an equation of state for ultra-dense matter, can be determined by measurements of their mass and radius. Thermonuclear explosions on accreting neutron stars are frequently observed as X-ray bursts. These events allow us to study the physics responsible for the dynamic behavior of neutron stars, as well as they can help constrain their compactness. By investigating the relationship between thermonuclear burning mechanisms and accretion process regimes the project does address the question of the origin of the elements in the Universe through the nucleosynthesis of heavy nuclei during X-ray bursts.
DTU Space has a strong position in observational astrophysics primarily based on space missions and several decades heritage of participation in astrophysical satellites. Current satellites include INTEGRAL, PLANCK, NuSTAR and in the near future we also participate in JWST, EUCLID and ATHENA.
More specifically for the advertised PhD project, the group of Astrophysics is also involved in the Neutron Star Interior Composition ExploreR (NICER), NASA’s newest X-ray instrument on the International Space Station.

Responsibilities and tasks
The goal of the PhD project is to study the physics of thermonuclear explosions on the surface of neutron stars. By combining observations from different instruments and through the investigation of high timing and spectral resolution data, the project aims to identify for the first time the nuclei synthesized during X-ray bursts.
The successful candidate is expected to mainly perform the following tasks:

  • Data analysis of X-ray observations from different instruments/satellites
  • Scientific research on the physics of accreting neutron stars and thermonuclear X-ray bursts
  • Measurements of the gravitational redshift of spectral features detected in X-ray burst emission
  • Collaboration to the Multi-INstrument Burst ARchive international team
  • Write half-year progress reports
  • Disseminate results at conferences and through scientific articles
  • Teaching duties (up to 15% of working time)
  • Attend PhD courses (30 ECTS)
A mandatory research stay during a semester abroad is to be foreseen.
Candidates should have a master's degree in engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree in engineering.
Approval and Enrolment
The scholarships for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes of DTU. For information about the general requirements for enrolment and the general planning of the scholarship studies, please see the DTU PhD Guide.
The successful candidate has outstanding analytical and problem solving skills to become a committed researcher with a drive for excellence. Advanced skills in computing are a key requirement as many activities are carried out in Linux environment.
The assessment of the applicants will be made by Senior scientist Jérôme Chenevez.
Interviews are foreseen to take place during the first week of October.
We offer
We offer an interesting and challenging job in an international environment focusing on education, research, scientific advice and innovation, which contribute to enhancing the economy and improving social welfare. We strive for academic excellence, collegial respect and freedom tempered by responsibility. The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is a leading technical university in northern Europe and benchmarks with the best universities in the world.
Salary and appointment terms
The salary and appointment terms are consistent with the current rules for PhD degree students. The period of employment is 3 years.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Senior Scientist Jerome Chenevez, +45 4525 9703.
You can read more about DTU Space on
Please submit your online application no later than 1 October 2017.

Applications must be submitted as one pdf file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online," fill in the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one pdf file. The file must include:
  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and excel spreadsheet here
Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree, but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.
DTU Space has about 145 employees, an annual turn-over of about 130 MDKK and it is located at the Lyngby Campus of the Technical University of Denmark together with 19 other institutes within the technical sciences. As the National Space Institute, DTU Space is the leading institution of public space activities in Denmark. The mission of the Institute is to conduct research, development, public sector consultancy, education and innovation at the highest international level within the following areas: Space Technology & Instrumentation, Earth Observation & Geoscience and Space- & Astro-physics. In the Astrophysics and Atmospheric Division, current focus areas cover large-scale structure of the universe, physics of compact objects, space weather, upper atmosphere physics and cosmo-climatology as well as development of instrumentation, in particular high-energy instrumentation, i.e. X- and gamma ray detectors and -optics. The division is currently active in operation of instruments on and data analysis from three satellites. The division also runs four instrumentation laboratories and hosts a center for space weather research and forecasts.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 5,800 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society; and our 10,600 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government, and public agencies.