PhD Student Exoplanets m/f - JRID46161

Submission Dates
Archive Date: 
November 30, 2013
Deadline to Apply for Job: 
December 1, 2013
Job Details
Job Category: 
Pre-doctoral/Graduate Positions
Institution/Company Name: 
SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research
Institution Classification/Type: 
Submission Address for Resumes/CVs
Attention To:
PhD student Exoplanets m/f
SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research
Street Address Line 1: 
Landleven 12
Zip/Postal Code: 
9747 AD
The Netherlands
Contact Information For Inquiries About Job
Email Address for Inquiries:
Job Announcement Text: 

The research area of the Low Energy Astrophysics (LEA) division focuses on observational studies of topics/objects for which the understanding depends critically on the infrared to submm wavelength radiation. Among the most recent instrumental track records are the HIFI instrument on the Herschel Space Observatory, for which SRON is the Principal Investigator institute. SRON is also the PI-institute for the SAFARI instrument on the Japanese SPICA satellite. To connect to exoplanet research with JWST, SPICA and E-ELT-METIS, as well as part of the NWO-funded exoplanet network the SRON LEA division in Groningen seeks a PhD-student (OIO) m/f (vacancy nr 928/959) to study the role of asteroids in the delivery of water and organics to Earth, Mars, and exoplanets.

Project description

Life as we know it depends on the presence of water and organic materials. Both are believed to have been delivered to the young Earth (and, by extension, to Mars or exoplanets) through meteorite and cometary impacts.  Current models of meteoritic delivery take no account of the physical or dynamical structure of the asteroid main belt.  However, the orbits of C and D-class asteroids, the parent bodies of water-bearing meteorites, are strongly clustered in the outer regions of the main belt.  Also, due to chaotic dynamics, the efficiency with which material is transported to planet-crossing orbits varies strongly within the main belt.
We are looking for a PhD candidate to model transport rates for asteroid material as a function of region within the asteroid belt.  The results will be convolved with the results of recent large-scale albedo surveys – low albedo is an excellent proxy for water and organics content.  Basing ourselves on the observed impactor flux on Earth, we will obtain much improved delivery rates of water and organics on planetary surfaces across the Solar System, including Mars.  We will extrapolate our findings to exoplanetary systems.  Ideally, the project will culminate in predictions that can be tested using existing or upcoming observational facilities in which SRON is involved, such as ALMA, JWST, SPICA, or E-ELT-METIS.

This project is a collaboration between SRON-Groningen, Utrecht and Leiden. The PhD candidate will work under the guidance of Michael Müller, Frank Helmich, Inge-Loes ten Kate, Harold Linnartz, and
promotor Floris van der Tak. The collaboration is part of the NWO exoplanet program.  The study is expected to lead to a PhD degree at the University of Groningen within a period of four years.


• MSc. (or equivalent) in astronomy, physics, or a similar field (by the starting date of the position).
• Affinity with scientific modelling; ability to translate an analytical understanding into usable computer code. Familiarity with multi-body dynamics and/or thermal modelling of planetary surfaces is considered an asset.
• Must be able and ready to travel nationally and internationally for science conferences and visits to collaborators.
• Capable of working independently as well as in a team.
• Fluent use of the English language in writing and speech.

Employment conditions

Employment of the full-time position as PhD-student at SRON Groningen is by NWO (The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) and will be for a period of 18 month with an option for an extention with 30 month. The salary will be in accordance with the salary scales of NWO for PhD-students and is €2.057,- gross per month on a full-time basis in the first year, increasing to € 2.636,- in the fourth year. 

For information

Informal enquires about this position are welcome; please contact dr. Michael Müller (+31-50-363 8446, or dr. Frank Helmich (+31-50 363 4799). Information about SRON will be found at

Letter of application

If you wish to apply you can send a motivation letter with CV and the name(s) and address(es) of reference(s) (incl. phone and e mail) preferably via mail to Please state the vacancy number SRON 928/959. in the subject of your mail. Applications will be accepted until 15 November 2013.

No commercial propositions please.