Centro de Astrobiología (CAB, CSIC-INTA), Unidad de Excelencia «María de Maeztu» offers 4 predoctoral positions within the María de Maeztu project: «Assessing the feasibility of life as a universal phenomenon through planetary exploration».
The deadline for sending applications is December 31st, 2020.
- Project title: «Search and characterization of the first co-orbital planets«
Throughout this project, the predoctoral researcher will use exoplanetary detection techniques (radial velocity, transits, transit time variations, astrometry, etc.) with Earth and space data in combination with Bayesian analysis techniques to constrain the presence and frequency of these co-orbital planets in known planetary systems. At the same time, it will develop automatic detection algorithms for these systems for their subsequent application to future space missions such as PLATO. Likewise, theoretical analyses with N-body simulations will be carried out to understand from a theoretical point of view the stability of these systems and the candidates they are in, as well as to prioritize the known planetary systems in which to carry out exhaustive searches.
- Project title: «Bayesian statistical methods for age estimation of stars and star associations throughout the time domain«
Main tasks: Statistical analysis of astronomical data, specifically linked to the determination of stellar properties, especially ages, from spectroscopy, astrometry, photometry, etc, in large databases. It will be necessary to apply Bayesian inference techniques (in particular hierarchical models and sampling techniques for high dimensional spaces), Big and Data Science, Machine Learning, Data Mining, Statistical Inference, etc.
- Project title: “Probiotic chemistry: increasing molecular complexity in aqueous media«
In the present PhD project, simulation experiments will be carried out in the laboratory paying special attention to the role of water, its changes of state, aqueous interfaces and hydrothermal conditions in order to better understand the physical-chemical processes that take place in the possible generation of complex organic chemistry under certain planetary conditions. HCN will be considered as the main reagent, given the high astrobiological interest of this molecule due to its ubiquity and because it is considered as a key to understand the origin of proto-metabolic and informational systems. Thus, soluble salts such as NaCN, KCN or complex iron salts (ferrocyanides) will be used as main sources of cyanide under conditions of simulation of planetary aqueous environments. For the analysis and characterization of the final products, we will use spectroscopic, chromatographic and thermal analysis techniques among others (e.g., GC-MS, HPLC, FT-IR, NMR, TGA, DSC …). We will study both simple molecules (amino acids, nucleobases, carboxylic acids, cofactors, sugars and derivatives …) as well as oligomers/polymers (generally known as HCN polymers) that can be obtained and their potential catalytic, electrochemical and other properties that they may present, given their possible interest in subsequent secondary reactions that may lead to the development of a subsequent prebiotic evolution.
Contact: Dr. Marta Ruiz Bermejo (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Project title: «Study of the structure of massive protostellar systems to determine whether they form planets«
The topic of the research will focus on the study of young massive protostellar systems with the aim of determining whether these systems form planets. In the last ten years, enormous progress has been made in the study of planet formation for solar-type systems, but it is not known whether systems with more massive stars (with masses more than 8 times that of our Sun) can form planets at some point in their short life.
More information and how to apply: