Research :: PhD Topics for 2019 :: Instrumentation

Topics under the thematic line Space and Ground Systems and Technologiesavailable for the 2019 Call (2 PhD Topic):

  • 2019/506 - Stabilization of calibration light sources for High Accuracy Photometry Instruments
  • 2017/507 - Novel software for state-of-the-art spectrographs: stellar radial velocity extraction

For further details please see the listing below with the abstract and advisors. Prospective candidates are welcome to contact directly the proposers of the topics for inquiries and further details.

2019/506 - Stabilization of calibration light sources for High Accuracy Photometry Instruments

Advisors: Manuel Abreu (DF/FCUL & IA U.Lisboa), Alexandre Cabral (DF/FCUL & IA U.Lisboa)

Abstract: Transit spectroscopy and multi-band photometry has been so far conducted using general-purpose, space-based instruments. These measurements however suffer from a high level of systematic error due to issues such as pointing jitter, thermal and opto-mechanical stability, wavelength and photometric calibration, and detector stability. Testing and calibration of high precision photometers for the detection of planetary transits requires a light source which photometric stability must be better than the goal stability of the photometer to be tested.

In case test, integration and calibration of these sensors, it will be required highly radiometrically stable light sources, both in flux and spectra.

The proposed project aims to research and develop a device that senses the light source fluctuations and modulates the beam, both in flux and in spectra, to produce a sufficiently stable source, a truly impressive challenge when stabilization levels of few ppm arerequired over long periods of observation.

University: Lisboa

2019/507 - Novel software for state-of-the-art spectrographs: stellar radial velocity extraction

Advisors: Sérgio Sousa (IA U.Porto), Pedro Viana (DFA/FCUP & IA U.Porto), Nuno Santos (DFA/FCUP & IA U.Porto)

Abstract: The detection of an increasing variety of exoplanets, planets orbiting other stars, and in particular the derivation of their masses, has been possible thanks to the continuous development of high-resolution, stable spectrographs, and making use of the Doppler radial-velocity method. Over the past two decades, technological progress together with significant advances in data reduction and analysis techniques already allowed this method to detect and characterize a thousand or so exoplanets. Now, the dawn of a novel generation of ground and space-based instruments and missions promises to bring us close to the discovery and characterization of temperate Earth-like worlds, similar to Earth in both mass and composition and thus potential islands of life in the Universe.

Several interesting challenges remain, however. In particular, a new data analysis paradigm is needed to significantly improve the extraction of radial velocity information from stellar spectra. Therefore, we propose as the main objective of this project the development and implementation of a novel data processing and analysis software for the precise estimation of stellar radial velocities from state-of-the-art spectra. This software should be developed using high-performance programming and computing techniques, in order to optimize its speed. It will be used to analyzedata taken with instruments such as ESPRESSO (ESO-VLT), NIRPS (ESO-3.6m) and SPIROU (CFHT), where our team has a leadingparticipation.

The candidate will have the opportunity to apply the algorithm to existing data in collaboration with the team, namely in the search for temperate Earth-like exoplanets. By the end of the project, the candidate will have acquired expertise on the reduction and analysis of high-resolution stellar spectra, pipelines for astronomical instrumentation, as well on general-purpose advanced programming, computational, statistical and machine-learning techniques.

University: Porto