PhD position on Dwarf galaxies with Apertif
  • Expertise
    Radio Astronomy
  • Section
    Astronomy group
  • Hours
  • Closing date

PhD position on Dwarf galaxies with Apertif



Dwarf galaxies are galaxies much smaller than our own Milky Way; they range from being a hundred to more than a million times smaller. As a result of their low masses, dwarf galaxies have shallow gravitational potential wells and are very susceptible to feedback processes, such as the loss of gas due to winds from supernovae. This means that they are excellent tools for testing our understanding of the processes that drive galaxy formation and evolutions. For example, observations of dwarf galaxies are a key constraint for the implementation of baryonic physics (e.g., feedback) in simulations. Apertif is a new phased-array feed for the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT); Apertif provides forty simultaneous beams, turning WSRT-Aperitf into a natural survey instrument. The Apertif imaging survey provides radio continuum, polarization and neutral hydrogen (HI) data with a resolution of ~15″. This survey is ongoing now and will have covered ~1000 square degrees of the shallow tier by the end of 2020, and with smaller coverage of the medium deep tier. An automated pipeline (Apercal) provides calibrated visibility data, continuum images, polarization images and cubes, and (uncleaned) HI line cubes and dirty beams. HI is an excellent tool for identifying isolated dwarf galaxies as they tend to have more gas than stars. Beyond identification of dwarf galaxies, HI also provides information about the potential for star formation (HI is the raw reservoir of star formation fuel) and, since it is a spectral line, information about the internal kinematics and hence hosting dark matter halo. In this project, a student will use the Apertif imaging survey data to identify gas-bearing dwarf galaxies and study their properties, in order to address fundamental questions about galaxy formation and evolution.

Host institutes

This PhD position is supported by ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. Its mission is to make discoveries in radio astronomy happen, via the development of new and innovative technologies, the operation of world-class radio astronomy facilities, and the pursuit of fundamental astronomical research. Engineers and astronomers at ASTRON have an outstanding international reputation for novel technology development, and fundamental research in galactic and extra-galactic astronomy as well as more technical oriented research. The successful candidate will be based at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute and expected to spend 1-2 days per week at ASTRON.

The Kapteyn Astronomical Institute is part of the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA) and is recognised world-wide for the quality of its research in multiple areas of astronomy. With 15 faculty and 50 PhD students, it is the second-largest astronomical institute in the Netherlands. Groningen, a historic town in the northern Netherlands, occupies a strategic place in Dutch astronomy, hosting both the Kapteyn Institute and the low-energy astrophysics division of the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON). The Kapteyn Institute has a strong connection with the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) in Dwingeloo, a European centre of radio astronomy research. Staff and PhD students at the Kapteyn Institute frequently collaborate with SRON and ASTRON scientists and engineers. There are also strong interdisciplinary connections with other institutes in the Faculty of Science and Engineering. English is the common language of the Institute.

How to apply

We seek an excellent student with a strong background in physical sciences and/or astrophysics. A successful candidate must hold a Masters degree or equivalent by the starting date of the position. A track record of successful work within teams will be an important criteria for the selection. Previous relevant research experience with dwarf galaxies or neutral hydrogen studies is an asset, as is familiarity with with python or pipeline processing of large datasets.

We expect candidates to submit:

• a cover letter
• a two page statement of research experience
• a curriculum vitae
• a transcript of grades

All of the above should be sent as separate pdf files to Besides this, two letters of reference should be sent directly by the referees to this address. Applications received before May 25 will receive full consideration. For more information about this position, please contact: Dr Betsey Adams (

Word of a staff member
Gemma Janssen

From an early age I knew I wanted to become an astronomer, and I chose to study astronomy after high school. During my PhD research, that focussed on the precise measurement of radio pulsars, I gained a lot of experience in observing with the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope. The wide range of project that I […]

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