Habitable exoplanets in the Solar System Neighbourhood
The doctoral fellowship programme INPhINIT ”la Caixa” is devoted to attracting talented Early-Stage Researchers of any nationality to pursue their PhD studies in the best Spanish and Portuguese research centres and units with excellence distinction.
Research Project / Research Group Description
As the technology behind instrumentation in astronomy improves, so does our ability to detect and characterize planets outside our Solar System. Indeed, just after 26 years from discovering the first exoplanet Pegasy 51-b, the field of exoplanet has experienced one of the highest growth in recent science, becoming one of the hottest topics today.
Around ten years ago, the community focused on very small stars because of the great potentiality they presented for the discovery of habitable exo-Earths. Now, this has become a reality, with findings like that they numerous small planets, which implies the change of paradigm of having at least one planet orbiting almost every star in our Galaxy.
This has taken us from studying the stars alone to having to understand the complete stellar system formed by the star and their planets. To do so, we now need to know with sufficient precision the parameters and internal structure of the host stars and understand the physical processes behind their variability, the formation and dynamics of planets around them, any possible interaction between planets and their stars and the evolution in time of the whole system. We can even start characterizing their atmospheres in search for signatures of life!
The main objective of our project is to search for exoplanets around M-dwarf stars to try to understand how they form and evolve to the systems we detect today. In our group, we work in all possible aspects of these systems, from the general statistics and physics of the formation and evolution of exoplanets and their atmospheres to the internal structure of their stars. To this aim, our group led the construction of CARMENES, an instrument, the first of its kind worldwide, currently in operation at CAHA observatory. Our group includes people with experience in theory, observations, instrumentation and management and is internationally renowned.
Job position description
One of the main objectives of the Severo Ochoa program at the IAA is the scientific exploitation of the CARMENES instrument to detect a whole population of exoplanets and to characterize their atmospheres.
Therefore, we welcome graduates interested in research lines in astrophysics related with stellar physics (stellar atmospheres, stellar parameters, asteroseismology, magnetic activity) and the detection of planetary systems to understand their formation and evolution together with those of their stars (formation, characterization, evolution and dynamics of planets, stars and debris disks). The candidate will become a member of the CARMENES consortium and interact very lively with other members from both Germany and Spain.
The candidates must have a good command of English and knowledge of programming, in particular with Python.