Postdoctoral Research Position (Ref. Nr. 17-03)

Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg

Astronomy & Astrophysics


Type of Job


Postdoctoral Research Position

Job Offer from March 30, 2017

The Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg seeks an excellent post-doctoral scholar to pursue innovative research and development as Adaptive Optics scientist within the context of near-infrared, AO-assisted interferometry at the newest generation of science instruments at the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) and the Large Binocular telescope (LBT), namely with beam-combiners Gravity, Matisse, and LINC-NIRVANA, covering all ground-based infrared windows from 1-12micron.

The project

The focus of the position is to improve the sky coverage and sensitivity of natural guide star fringe tracking for such AO-assisted interferometric beam combiners, to be able to access new classes of scientific targets (intermediate mass black holes, quasars, complex planet-forming disks). A central topic of research are the study of predictive control algorithms and fringe tracking concepts as part of our P-REx project, which shall benefit from modeling and measuring atmospheric turbulence with state-of-the art wavefront sensors.

The interferometric beam-combination will even in times of the 30+m telescopes be the prime technology for direct imaging at infrared wavelengths at highest angular resolutions, needed to observe star and planet formation physics, as well as black hole mass accretion and ejection processes around AGN. While the position is funded to advance the instrumentation technology, we are encouraging ‘technical astronomers’ to apply, 50/50 science / instrumentation contracts could be negotiated, depending on the mutual interests and career plans. The position is meant for a developing, motivated scientist, and offers a clear career path towards the ELTs, for which AO technology is a core ingredient. MPIA is strongly involved in today’s 8m class AO- and interferometer instrumentation, as well as in the first generation of E-ELT 39m class instruments (MICADO and METIS), so we can offer a large, and stimulating R&D environment for an adaptive optics scientist.

The candidate will benefit from a background in AO and interferometry at optical-infrared wavelength as well as from having a motivation to think out of the box, and to develop new approaches to old problems. The above mentioned instrumentation will undergo intensive scientific commissioning over the next few years. While the candidate is invited to support the commissioning teams, the position shall concentrate on independent evaluation of the technical limitations of the hardware as built and develop plans for performance enhancing upgrades, possibly focusing on coherencing the interferometric arrays on the faintest objects.

MPIA is a world leader in ground-based high angular resolution techniques (adaptive optics, interferometry). The position is ideal to further a successful career in astronomical instrumentation. The P-REx team is embedded in our experienced technical department covering all disciplines in astronomical infrared instrumentation. While the position focus is on the outlined science engineering tasks, the candidate is supported, but not required to actively participate in astronomical research in line with our department interests (see our websites regarding our current lines of research).  

Your profile

Applicants should have a PhD in astronomy, astrophysics, optical engineering or a related field.

Our offer

The remuneration is based on the German collective wage agreement for the public sector TVoeD, salary group E13. Social benefits are paid in accordance with the provisions of the civil service.  The appointment will be for an initial period of two years with an expected extension for at least another year in case of satisfactory performance. MPIA provides a stimulating work environment, and sufficient funds to cover job-related expenses due to publication, computing, travel, etc. The starting date is expected to be fall 2017, earlier starting dates are possible.

The Max Planck Society is an equal opportunity employer. Applications from women, disabled people and minority groups are particularly welcome. MPIA supports its employees in their search for suitable child care.

Your application

Candidates should send a curriculum vitae, publication list, a brief statement of research interest and qualifying experiences by 2nd May 2017, and arrange for 2-3 letters of reference to be provided separately by the same date. Given the specific search profile outlined above, late applications might be considered upon request.

Please send further inquiries and the application materials to

Dr. Jorg-Uwe Pott ()
Max-Planck-Institut fur Astronomie
Konigstuhl 17
69117 Heidelberg

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