Un contrato postdoctoral EXOPLANETAS 2021 / One Postdoctoral contract EXOPLANETS 2021 (PS-2020-070)

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The IAC (Tenerife) announces ONE postdoctoral contract to work on topics within the project “Brown dwarfs as exoplanet analogues” (PID2019-109522GB-C53), led by Drs. Nicolas Lodieu and Víctor S. Béjar.

Research topics at the IAC include most areas of astrophysics: solar physics, planetary systems, stellar and interstellar physics, galactic formation and evolution, and cosmology and astroparticles. All of these are supported by an ambitious instrumentation programme. In 2020, the IAC was granted by the Spanish Government the status of Severo Ochoa Center of Excellence, a prestigious recognition awarded for the third time to the IAC as a leading research institute in Spain. Further information about the IAC's research programme, its Observatories and the 10.4m GTC is available at the IAC's web page: https://www.iac.es/

Tasks: In the framework of the scientific and technical research "Brown Dwarfs as Exoplanet Analogues", the selected person has to carry out research for preparing the exploitation of the Euclid space mission in the field of ultra-cool dwarfs. Our group is part of one of only two ESA "Independent Legacy Scientist in the Euclid Science Team", with privileged access to proprietary data to carry out the proposed research. Specific tasks include photometric searches for isolated ultra-cool dwarfs in large surveys and/or as companions with spectroscopic characterization.

Special attention will be given to applicants with experience in the field of ultra-cool dwarfs and brown dwarfs with expertise in direct imaging, visible and infrared spectroscopy and/or astrometry.

Requirements: The candidates must have an excellent research record, commensurate with the duration of their research career. They must be in possession of a Ph.D. degree in Astrophysics or Physics by the application deadline: candidates who have not received their doctorate before the deadline will be not be admitted to the selection process. The IAC is an equal-opportunity employer. We encourage, in particular, applications by women and by members of minorities.

Selection process: The selection process consists of two phases: merit assessment and interview.

1. First phase: merit assessment. The Selection Panel will verify and rate the merits documented by the applicants. The maximum score that can be awarded in this phase is 80 points, calculated as the sum of the scores obtained in each of the following two sections.

a)  CV (maximum score: 60 points). Main criteria will be:

  • Scientific and technical contributions to the field of research, especially those listed in the Science Citation Index, in relation to the duration of the candidate’s scientific career. Of special importance are the first-authored papers by the candidate.
  • Appointments and stays (at the PhD or postdoctoral level) in prestigious research institutions.
  • Conference contributions, especially those leading to publications.
  • Other indicators of research activity and motivation (like invitations to lectures, organization of meetings, and teaching at University level).
  • Any periods of inactivity for medical reasons, maternity/paternity leaves, elderly care, or due to training or professional experience in other fields will be taken into account.

b)  Adequacy to the objectives of the contract (maximum score 20 points)

Adequacy of the candidate’s training and experience to this contract. Experience in the field of ultra-cool dwarfs and brown dwarfs will be particularly appreciated with experience in direct imaging, visible and infrared spectroscopy and/or astrometry.

Form of accreditation for both sections: A report of the candidate's technical and research activity, accompanied by documentation accrediting the activities mentioned.

2) Second phase: interview. (maximum score 20 points)

  • Candidates who have obtained at least 50 points in the first phase will be invited to an interview. The interview may be given in either Spanish or English (as chosen by the candidate) and take place using internet communication software (Zoom) that allows voice and image transmission.
  • During the interview, the candidate will present, for a maximum of 10 minutes, his/her vision about the suitability of his/her professional profile to the position and the planned research activity if awarded the contract. The presentation may be followed by questions by the Selection Committee.

Of the maximum 20 points to be awarded:

  • Up to 10 points correspond to the suitability of the candidate’s profile to the position
  • Up to 10 points correspond to the candidate's vision for their future research activity.

To pass the second phase a minimum score of 15 points will be necessary.

To pass the selective process, a minimum of 65 points must be reached. If there is a draw in the score of two or more candidates, priorities will be set according to the Equality Plan of the IAC.

Training: Candidates who have obtained their doctorate at the IAC must provide accreditation of a period of complementary training at other research centres. The required period is a full continuous year or 18 accumulated months (including periods of training during the doctoral studies stage and after obtaining the Ph.D. degree, but not periods prior to the predoctoral contract at the IAC).

Duration: The appointment will be for a maximum period of 1.5 year, and will not be extended beyond May 2023. The estimated date of commencement will be before November 2021.

Remuneration: The gross annual salary will be 35.375 Euros, with deductions of up to 20% for income tax (IRPF) and social security (dependent on the candidate's personal situation). The contract provides social security cover for spouse or de facto partner and children.

Extra financial support to start the contract: The present job offer includes financial support for the selected candidate at the time of starting the appointment. The support covers the following items: air ticket (arranged by the IAC) and a stay at a hotel for a maximum of two weeks (reservation made by the IAC). This financial support cannot exceed 2,500 Euros.

Applicants from outside the EU: Successful applicants who are not citizens of a member country of the European Union must keep in mind that, prior to signing the contract, they must obtain a residence and work permit (NIE card) from the Spanish immigration authorities.

Presentation of applications: Applications must be sent electronically via the web-based application system https://iac.sede.gob.es/procedimientos/portada/idp/390/language/en before the deadline set out in this advertisement. Alternatively, you may follow the instructions given in the corresponding official advertisement on our website.

The following documentation must be sent:

  • Application: including the name and position code (PS-2020-070)
  • Copy of a valid passport or national identity card
  • CV, containing a list of publications
  • Report on research activity and justification of suitability for the job (not exceeding 2 pages)
  • Copy of your degree or corresponding stamped certificate, issued on behalf of the University where you have obtained the degree (in Spanish or English)
  • Certificate of training in other centers (only for applicants that have completed their doctorate at the IAC).

You should also include the names and email addresses two or three scientists familiar with your work.

If any required documents are omitted, they will have to be submitted within a period of five working days after publication of the provisional list of admitted and excluded candidates.

The IAC supports and adheres to the Recommendation of the European Commission 2005/251/EC of March 11th 2005 on “The European Charter for Researchers” and “The Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers” adopted by the European Commission. Additionally, the IAC is aligned with the "Human Resources Strategy for Researchers" (HRS4R) fostered by the European Commission to support the implementation of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (C&C), having received recognition from the European Commission, with the award of the distinction "Excellence in Human Resources in Research".

Application deadline: February 28, 2021

Contact: For further information about the scientific aspects of this opening, please contact the head of the project at the IAC PI, Dr. Nicolas Lodieu (nlodieu at iac.es).

Selection committee

News related

  • Artist’s impression of the planetary system of TOI-178. Credit: European Southern Observatory (ESO)

    An international collaboration in which researchers from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias take part, has discovered a unique planetary system made up of six exolplanets, of which five perform an unusual rhythmic dance, while they orbit their star. Even so, the sizes and masses of the planets are not in any ordered pattern. This finding, which is published today in the journal Astronomy & Astrophyisics, poses a challenge to current theories of planet formation.

    The first time that the team observed TOI-178, a star 200 light years away towards the Sculptor constellation, they thought that they had seen two planets orbiting around it in the same orbit. But a more detailed look at the data showed something quite different. “Thanks to new observations we realized that we had not found two planets orbiting around the star at the same distance, but several planets with a very special configuration” explains Adrien Leleu, a researcher at the University of Geneva and the University of Berne (Switzerland) who has directed this study.

    The new research showed that the system is composed of six exoplanets and that all of them, apart from that nearest to the star, are involved in a rhythmic dance while they move around their orbits. In other words they are in resonance. This means that there are patterns which repeat while the planets move around the star, so that some of the planets align with themselves every certain number of orbits.

    A similar resonance is observed for three of Jupiter’s moons: Io, Europa, and Ganyumede. Io, the nearest of the three to Jupiter completes four orbits for each single orbit of Ganymede, which is the furthest, and two complete orbits for each orbit of the intermediate satellite Europa (making a 4:2:1 pattern). In the TOI-178 system the resonant motion is much more complex, because we are dealing with 5 planets, following a pattern with ratios 18:9:6:4:3, one of the biggest discovered until now in a planetary system. While the second planet outwards from the star completes 18 orbits, the third completes 9 orbits, and so on in succession. 

    Constelación Sculptor
    Position of the star TOI-178, and its planetary system, towards the Sculptor constellation. Credit: ESO

    At first the scientists found only four of the planets in resonance, but following the pattern they calculated that there ought to be another planet in the system, the fifth planet outwards from the star. “We predicted its orbit very accurately assuming that it was in resonance with the other planets, and when we went back to observe the system we confirmed that the planet really existed” explains Enric Pallé, an IAC researcher who participated in the study.

    Rhythmic but disordered

    Even though the planets in the TOI-178 system orbit their star in a well ordered way, their densities do not fall into any special pattern. Even though in our solar system the planets are ordered, with the rocky, dense planets close to the central star, and the gassy low density planets further away, in TOI-187 one of the dense and typically terrestrial exoplanets lies just next to a planet of similar size but with very low density, like a mini-Jupiter, next to another very similar to Neptune.

    Catastrophic events such as massive impacts, could normally explain the large variations in the densities of the planets. However this does not appear to be the case for the TOI-178 system. “The  orbits in this system are very ordered” exlains Roi Alonso, a researcher at the IAC and a co-author of the article “which implies that this system has evolved pretty smoothly since its formation."

    This contrast between the rhythmic harmony of the orbital motions, and the disordered densities of the planets challenges current theories of the formation and evolution of planets. Although none of the six exoplanets is within the habitable zone of the star, the researchers suggest that, continuing the chain of resonance they could find other planets which might exist within the zone, or very close to it.

    “In this work we have combined the most advanced instrument technology of the ESA satellite CHEOPS, and ESO’s ESPRESSO spectrograph, the IAC has contributed to both of them. In the future they will allow astronomers to look for the existence of additional planets in this system” concludes Jonay I. Gonzalez, an IAC researcher and a co-author of this study. The team also used data from the SPECULOOS (of which the ARTEMIS telescope at the Teide Observatory is part) and NGTS robotic telescope arrays at ESO's Paranal Observatory (Chile).

    Article: A. Leleu et al., “Six transiting planets and a chain of Laplace resonances in TOI-178”, Astronomy & Astrophysics. DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202039767

    ESO press release

    ESA press release

    Contact at the IAC:

    - Enric Pallé: epalle [at] iac.es

    - Roi Alonso: ras [at] iac.es

    - Jonay I. González: jonay.gonzalezhernandez [at] iac.es

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    The IAC (Tenerife) announces ONE postdoctoral contract to work on topics within the project “Brown dwarfs as exoplanet analogues” (PID2019-109522GB-C53), led by Drs. Nicolas Lodieu and Víctor S. Béjar. Research topics at the IAC include most areas of astrophysics: solar physics, planetary systems, stellar and interstellar physics, galactic

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