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Sub-milliarcsecond angular resolution at visible wavelengths using intensity interferometry in Cherenkov Telescopes

Fecha inicio solicitud: 
Mar, 13/11/2018
Fecha límite solicitud: 
Mié, 06/02/2019


The very high energy gamma ray group at CIEMAT is looking for a candidate to make a PhD thesis in the subject of Intensity Interferometry with MAGIC, funded by the Inphinit program of La Caixa:

-Research Project:

The aim of our research project is to achieve up to sub-millarcsecond angular resolution in optical wavelengths by means of intensity interferometry, in order to improve our understanding of stars and binary systems.

Imaging would allow measuring the diameter and even shape of stars, image study accretion flows, circumstellar disks and winds. Intensity Interferometry is a disruptive new technique to achieve sub-millisecond angular resolution in the visible range based on the quantum nature of light. This technique measures the degree of coherence of light detected at telescopes placed at distances of 10 - 1000s of meters. Cherenkov telescopes, such as the existing MAGIC telescopes in La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain) and the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA, currently under deployment in La Palma and Chile), are instruments for the detection of very high energy gamma rays from the ground. However, thanks to their large diameter optical reflectors and their nanosecond time response, they are ideally suited for Intensity Interferometry. We plan to instrument the cameras of the two MAGIC telescopes with digitizers able to sample at sub-nanosecond rate and correlate the signals to measure the degree of coherence of the visible light of individual stars. The detector would then be used to measure the diameter of stars down to magnitude of approximately 4-5. We plan to make this detector more sensitive by applying a combination of filters, polarizers and higher quantum efficiency photodetectors and possibly integrating it in the cameras of CTA telescopes. This ultimate detector could achieve an angular resolution as high as 100 micro-arcsecond.

-Research Group Description

The CIEMAT Particle Physics group (CIEMAT-FP) belongs to the Basic Research Department at CIEMAT, and is composed by the Astroparticle Physics Division, Particle Physics Division, and the Scientific Computing Unit.

The CIEMAT-FP group was recognized in 2015 with the María de Maeztu Unit of Excellence accreditation by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. This accreditation distinguishes the best research groups that stand out for the relevance and impact of their research outcomes at an international level.

The CIEMAT-FP Unit participates in large international experiments at the forefront of knowledge and technology in Particle and Astroparticle Physics, including the CTA and MAGIC gamma ray telescopes, Cosmology, detector R&D and Scientific Computing fields

-Job position description:

The candidate will collaborate with engineers and other scientists in house in the design and installation of one pixel and its dedicated readouts for intensity interferometry in each one of the MAGIC telescopes at the Observatorio del Roque de Los Muchachos in La Palma. This task could be extended to the LST telescopes of CTA in the same location.

In addition, the candidate will collaborate in the necessary data taking campaigns at the Observatory, firstly to fine tune hardware and validate it, and in a second phase to acquire scientific data for selected candidate stars. The candidate will participate in the selection of the best stars for this latter purpose.

It is also expected that the candidate collaborates in the development of the data analysis chain and will use it to firstly assess the potential of the technique, and later analyzing the scientific data.

The activities for this position require the availability to spend potentially up to three months per year in La Palma. The candidate should be fluent in English.

-Contact persons:

Juan Cortina ( and Carlos Delgado (