Two PhD positions on exoplanet research at Leiden Observatory

Posted on
Current state: Approved
Country: Netherlands
Contact Person: Ignas Snellen
Contact Email: [email protected]
Institution: Leiden Observatory
Application Due Date: Sunday, December 15 2013
Web Link:

Leiden Observatory invites applications for two PhD positions to work at the forefront of extrasolar planet research,

1) to work with the Multi-site All Sky CAmeRA, MASCARA to find the brightest transiting exoplanet systems in the sky,

and 2) to study gas and dust from hot, rocky exoplanets.


Project 1 (supervision – Ignas Snellen): In a few months, the first station of the Multi-site All-Sky CAmeRA MASCARA

will become operational. Its aim is to find the brightest transiting exoplanets in the sky, between V=4-8, which will

be highly valuable for atmospheric characterization. This PhD project will focus on the first data – selecting the best

candidates, conduct follow-up observations, and discover the true exoplanets. See also


Project 2 (Supervision – Ignas Snellen & Christoph Keller): This PhD project will focus on two new ways in which we

can learn about the surface and interiors of close-in rocky exoplanets: I) through sputtering, a process well known

from Mercury in our own solar system, in which surface elements are released into space through a heavy bombardment by

the intense stellar wind plasma, and II) through the disintegrating of the most extremely irradiated planets, which subsequently release large amounts of gas and dust into an exospheric tail. The first of these disintegrating planets,

discovered by Kepler, KIC 22557548b, shows a highly variable tail.


For these projects we seek excellent and enthusiastic candidates, who are highly interested in observational astronomy.

Leiden Observatory is the oldest university astronomy department in the world, and the largest astronomy department in

the Netherlands. It hosts 60+ graduate students of many nationalities. Leiden Observatory has a large and lively

exoplanet community, actively involved in many areas of exoplanet detection and characterization. Leiden is a charming

university town with international flair.


Applicants should have, or soon obtain, a masters degree in astronomy or in physics with a strong astronomy component.

Applications are accepted only through our online application site – The

deadline for applications and all letters of recommendation is December 15, 2013.

 For more information: Ignas Snellen, [email protected]

                                  Christoph Keller, [email protected]