Applications are invited for a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Minnesota to be involved in the development and commissioning of a new facility funded by the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program. The Total-Coverage Ultra-Fast Response to Binary Mergers Observatory (or TURBO) will consist of large-format CMOS detectors mounted on sixteen 0.20-meter diameter optical telescopes both at Magdalena Ridge Observatory near Soccoro, NM and at Skinakas Observatory in Crete, Greece. Within two seconds of a trigger alert, TURBO will begin obtaining continuous, multi-band images of more than 150 square degrees. A prototype telescope in St. Paul, Minnesota has been implemented that can acquire images within two seconds of an alert. Counterparts to gravitational-wave detections of mergers will multiply the information available from just the gravitational waves alone by revealing the mergers’ distances, environments, and nucleosynthetic products. Given its unique sensitivity to prompt emission, TURBO may detect novel types of counterparts, yielding potential insights, for example, into the poorly understood observed population of binary black-hole mergers. When not responding to gravitational-wave mergers, TURBO will obtain observations of supernovae in nearby galaxies at the time of explosion (4-6 events each year), which can be expected to provide new understanding of their stellar progenitor populations and explosion mechanisms.
The position will involve development of software and/or hardware, commissioning at both sites, and analysis of early data. A pipeline powered in large part by Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) is in construction to reduce and analyze the imaging at the survey cadence. Available observing facilities include the twin 8.4-m Large Binocular Telescope, the 6.5-m MMT, the 2.3-m Bok Telescope, as well as the 1.5-m Mount Lemmon Observing Facility.
The appointment will begin on or before September 1, 2022 and be for two years with the possibility of renewal for a third year given available funding and progress. A PhD in Physics or Astronomy or related field is required, and experience with time-domain surveys, machine learning, instrumentation is preferred but all applicants with a wide variety of research backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Complementary research efforts at the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics include programs in supernovae, massive stellar populations, cosmology, galaxy clusters, galaxy evolution, and transient astronomy. Applicants should send an application to [email protected] and include a statement of research interests (up to two pages), a resume, and a publication list. Please also arrange for three references to send letters of recommendation to the same email address. Full consideration will be given to applications that are received by January 31, 2022.