Lund University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physics

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world’s top universities. The University has around 47 000 students and more than 8 800 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

Lund University welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We regard gender equality and diversity as a strength and an asset.

PhD position probing the Galaxy with visible and NIR astrometry 

Astronomy in Lund has a long history of famous astronomers working on understanding the dynamics and the constituents of the Milky Way. Today we honour this legacy by actively pursuing questions at the cutting edge of astronomical research, namely the formation and evolution of galaxies, stars and exoplanets.

Research at the Division of Astrophysics is driven by the curiosity of individual researchers with their own local, national and international networks. Our current research aims at exploring the constituents of the Milky Way, from an evolutionary, chemical, and dynamical point of view, and embedding our understanding of them in a cosmological context. Leading the development of concepts for world class space astronomy missions, e.g. Gaia, is of fundamental importance and the study of exoplanets is an emerging and new dimension of this enterprise.

The European Space Agency mission Gaia has revolutionised our understanding of the Milky Way. Gaia is an optical-wavelength astrometry mission that measures the positions, parallaxes and proper motions for close to two billion stars. Data from Gaia has been used to discover binary and exoplanet systems, unexpected disturbances in the disc of the Milky Way, remnants from galaxies that merged with the Milky Way early in its life, and build samples of thousands of open clusters. The future GaiaNIR mission will greatly expand upon the success of Gaia and extend the catalogue into the Near Infra-Red. Other projects will also contribute to these vast data sets, such as LSST, Euclid, Roman and small JASMINE. This project is aimed at quantifying the impact on Galactic studies that the new observational data will bring. 

This PhD project is part of the MWGaiaDN MSCA Doctoral Network. The network consists of 10 academic partners across Europe at which 12 PhD students will be active in the network researching a range of topics with Gaia and other data.

Job assignments

The successful applicant will work on assessing the impact on our understanding of the Galaxy by adding future Visible and NIR astrometric observations to the existing Gaia catalogue. Vera C. Rubin (LSST) observations will go deeper than Gaia and many of the stars observed by small-JASMINE and GaiaNIR will be new NIR objects while in the case of objects already measured by Gaia the astrometric accuracy will be improved, especially the proper motions. The Euclid and Roman space telescopes where not designed for astrometry but will make many high quality incidental observations of our Galaxy which will be very valuable. 

The Galaxia code (Sharma, et al. 2011) will be used to generate, using an N-body sampling scheme, synthetic surveys of the MW with and without the new observations - this was recently used to provide a mock stellar catalog for Gaia-DR2 (Rybizki, et al. 2018) and to provide number counts for the GaiaNIR Voyage2050 proposal (Hobbs, et al. 2021). The resulting synthetic catalogues can be used to understand how to identify structures in the Galaxy, how to determine the all-sky distribution of different stellar families and how to identify substructure in the Halo. Importantly this will show the advantages of combining the data from different missions and will feed directly into the science proposal for the upcoming GaiaNIR mission. 

The ultimate goal of this work is, in addition to better understanding our Galaxy with current data, that we assess the impact we can expect on our understanding of the Galaxy by adding future observations from planned surveys. Above all, this is aimed towards building the science case for the upcoming infrared astrometric GaiaNIR mission, which is being lead from Lund. The models will be used to demonstrate the additional scientific gain GaiaNIR will provide. The student will perform an assessment of the benefits of including data from the different astrometric missions considering their respective accuracies and detailed predictions of the science return achieved by shifting astrometry into the NIR.

The main duties of doctoral students are to devote themselves to their research studies which includes participating in research projects and third cycle courses. The work duties can also include teaching and other departmental duties (no more than 20%).

Admission requirements

A person meets the general admission requirements for third-cycle courses and study programmes if he or she:
•    has been awarded a second-cycle qualification, or
•    has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second cycle, or
•    has acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.

A person meets the specific admission requirements for third-cycle studies in Astronomy and Astrophysics if he or she has:

To be admitted to the third-cycle programme in Astronomy and Astrophysics the student must have earned credits in first and second-cycle programmes in which physics, mathematics and/or corresponding engineering subjects have been substantial elements. In addition to 60 credits in basic physics, there is a requirement for at least 60 credits in subjects of relevance to Astronomy and Astrophysics, e.g., courses in astronomy or other physics subjects, or engineering subjects such as space technology and automatic control. The 120 credits must include at least 60 second-cycle credits. The first and second-cycle
courses must include a degree project comprising 30 credits. 

Equivalent knowledge acquired through corresponding programmes will be assessed individually. 

In order to enable interdisciplinary initiatives and important specialisations in certain areas, students with qualifications in subjects other than Astronomy and Astrophysics may be considered for admission.

Finally, the student must be judged to have the potential to complete the programme.

Additional requirements:
•    Very good oral and written proficiency in English.

Eligibility criteria
The applicant should not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Sweden for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before the recruitment date — unless as part of a compulsory national service or a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention.

Basis of assessment
Selection to postgraduate studies is based on the expected ability to perform well in the studies. The evaluation of the ability to perform well is based primarily on the results of studies at the basic and advanced levels, in particular:
1.    Knowledge and skills relevant to the thesis project and the subject of the study.
2.    An assessment of ability to work independently and to formulate and tackle research problems.
3.    Written and oral communication skills
4.    Other experience relevant to postgraduate studies, such as professional experience.

Consideration will also be given to good collaborative skills, drive and independence, and how the applicant, through his or her experience and skills, is deemed to have the abilities necessary for successfully completing the third cycle programme.

Terms of employment

Only those admitted to third cycle studies may be appointed to a doctoral studentship. Third cycle studies at LTH consist of full-time studies for 4 years. A doctoral studentship is a fixed-term employment of a maximum of 5 years (including 20% departmental duties). Doctoral studentships are regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100), chapter 5, 1-7 §§.

Instructions on how to apply

Applications shall be written in English and include a cover letter stating the reasons why you are interested in the position and in what way the research project corresponds to your interests and educational background. The application must also contain a CV, degree certificate or equivalent, and other documents you wish to be considered (grade transcripts, contact information for your references, letters of recommendation, etc.).


Type of employment Temporary position
First day of employment as soon as possible
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100
City Lund
County Skåne län
Country Sweden
Reference number PA2023/513
  • David Hobbs, Senior university lecturer, +46-46-2221573,
Union representative
  • OFR/ST:Fackförbundet ST:s kansli, +46-46-2229362
  • SACO:Saco-s-rådet vid Lunds universitet,
Published 10.Mar.2023
Last application date 21.Apr.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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