The optical interferometry group at the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is seeking one or more scientists for potentially permanent positions to work with the Navy Precision Optical Interferometer (NPOI), one of the world's premier long baseline optical interferometers. The positions would be based in NRL's Remote Sensing Division (RSD) in Washington, DC. The NPOI, which operates at visual wavelengths, conducts astrophysical research in order to develop new interferometric techniques, data reduction methods, and equipment. Current areas of astrophysical research include imaging circumstellar material and stellar surfaces, determining binary star orbits to determine fundamental stellar parameters, and measuring stellar diameters and limb darkening. We have also initiated a testbed program for interferometric imaging of artificial satellites.
The NPOI, located near Flagstaff, AZ, consists of four siderostats in fixed locations, plus six movable siderostats, with up to six at a time in use. The current configuration, with baselines (separations between siderostats) ranging from 16 m to 98 m, provides angular resolutions as small as 1.2 milliarcsec (mas). We observe in 16 spectral channels covering λλ550-850 nm, and can reach a limiting magnitude of about 5m at λ800 nm.
The NPOI is in an active state of development. We are installing three moveable 1-meter telescopes equipped with adaptive optics that will give us a 432-m baseline (0.25 mas resolution) and as much as 2m gain in sensitivity; we are adding a near-infrared fringe-tracking beam combiner to be used in tandem with our visible-light combiners; and we are preparing to commission upgraded detectors in the newer of our visible-light beam combiners, which will provide us with spectral resolving powers R ~ 200 and 1000.
In addition to significant astronomical research opportunities with the NPOI, these positions provide opportunities in instrumentation, such as beam combination techniques and the application of adaptive optics to interferometry, and in computational techniques. The RSD also houses an active radio interferometry group with close collaborative relationships with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and we encourage collaboration between the groups.
Qualifications for these positions include an advanced degree or a PhD in astronomy or related field, and US citizenship. Applicants with experience in interferometry at optical, infrared, or radio wavelengths are especially encouraged to apply. Applicants should send a CV and arrange for three letters of recommendation to Dr. Tom Armstrong at email@example.com. Applications will be considered as they arrive.
The Naval Research Laboratory is an Equal Opportunity Employer and offers a generous benefits program. Benefit details may be found at www.nrl.navy.mil/careers/benefits/. EEO/AAE