Postdoc position | Numerical methods for exoplanet spectral calculations

Scientist Heidelberg
Astronomy & Astrophysics

Job Code: 320

Job Offer from March 12, 2021

We invite applications for a 3-year postdoctoral research position (Reference Number 320) in the APEx Department of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg. APEx is a new department, founded in 2020 to characterize the atmospheric physics and chemistry of extrasolar planets.

The successful applicant will work with Paul Mollière on the in-house radiative transfer and retrieval code for exoplanet atmospheres (petitRADTRANS), with a special focus on preparing the code for the analysis of data taken with the next-generation telescopes such as JWST and the ELTs.

Necessary calculations will be mostly performed on the computing clusters of MPIA or the high-performance computing clusters (CPU & GPU) of the Max Planck Society.

The specific goals of the position are:

  • to streamline and optimize the code’s structure,
  • to enable the code to quickly calculate spectra from 3-d atmospheric structures at both low and high spectral resolution,
  • to optimize the code's performance, also making use of GPU acceleration.

While the focus of this position is mainly on code development, the successful applicant may also contribute to exoplanet characterization studies carried out at the department. The successful applicant can dedicate 20% of their time to pursuing independent research projects.

The position can be filled immediately, with an ideal starting date no later than Jan 1, 2022.


  • do not need prior experience in the field of exoplanets. 
  • must have a Ph.D. in astronomy, astrophysics, or a related field.
  • should have extensive experience with numerical methods, programming skills in Python, and a compiled  language such as C/C++/Fortran.
  • ideally have prior experience with high-performance computing or GPU acceleration, but this experience can also be acquired while working in the advertised position.

Candidates should provide a cover letter, CV, publication list, and a research statement (including past, current and future research, maximum of 3 pages). Please concatenate all documents in the order listed above in a single pdf file.  Please also arrange for three letters of reference to be provided separately. 

All application materials are due by April 23, 2021 and must be submitted using the online application system.

Any time before submission, candidates first need to register with the online system to generate a registration code, which should then be forwarded to referees for letter submission.

For inquiries, please contact the chair of the search committee, Paul Mollière (). For assistance in submitting the application, contact Carola Jordan ().

Included Benefits

The MPIA provides funds for publications, computing, and travel. Remuneration will be on the German public sector scale (TVÖD, level E14) and depends on qualification and experience. Social benefits are granted according to the regulations for public service.

The Max Planck Society is an equal opportunity employer, and we particularly welcome applicants from groups who have been traditionally underrepresented in astronomy. The MPIA supports its employees in their search for suitable childcare.

For questions concerning promoting and monitoring equal opportunity for all MPIA employees, please contact Thavisha Dharmawardena () and regarding disabilities Ralf Launhardt (). Both of them will keep any communications confidential.

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