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Summer student programme 2016

Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center (NCAC) in Warsaw and Torun offers an opportunity to participate in our scientific research under a guidance of a staff member.


We invite 2nd-4th year undergraduate physics or astronomy students (in exceptional circumstances we would accept younger students). The duration of an individual programme should be 4-6 weeks. Students living outside Warsaw or Torun can apply for an accommodation in student houses.


NCAC offers no remuneration for participating in the programme. Student can be paid by his/her supervisor, from the supervisor's grant funds.


Students interested in participating in our programme should first contact the potential supervisor and agree on the exact time and duration of the programme. An application should be then submitted, giving at least the supervisor's name, duration of the programme, marks for the lectures and course taken, application for accommodation if necessary. All additional information about student extracurricular activities is welcome (participation in observational programms, schools, conferences, scientific publications, etc). Applications should be sent by post to CAMK PAN, Bartycka 18, 00-716 Warsaw, or they can be submitted in pdf form to praktyki@camk.edu.pl. Deadline for applications is 7 May 2016. The selection procedure will be completed by 31 May 2016. The successful candidates will be informed by email.


Possible subjects:


1. Kinetic simulations of magnetic reconnection

The goal of this project is introduction to kinetic numerical simulations of the process of magnetic reconnection using the particle-in-cell (PIC) method. Reconnection is a process of dissipation of magnetic energy with broad applications to high-energy astrophysics. The starting point would be analysis of simulation results including the description of particle acceleration and production of radiation during reconnection. The project may be expanded to include preparation and execution of PIC simulations by the student.

Supervisor: Dr Krzysztof Nalewajko (knalew@camk.edu.pl), CAMK Warsaw


Time: July-first half of August



2. Formation and evolution of a bar in the Milky Way


The central bulge of our Galaxy probably has the form of a bar. Its existence is supported by growing amount of observational data, it can also be modelled theoretically by simulating the evolution of a stellar disk embedded in a dark matter halo. The summer student will analyse and interpret the results of an N-body simulation tracing such evolution and measure in detail the properties of the forming bar, such as its length and pattern speed as a function of time. I am especially interested in candidates wishing to continue the research started during the summer programme and prepare a Master’s or PhD thesis under my supervision.


Supervisor: prof. Ewa Łokas (lokas@camk.edu.pl), CAMK Warsaw


Time: July-August



3. Analysis and interpretation of polarised radio profiles of pulsars.

Observational task: thorough analysis of polarisation data for a large number of average radio pulse profiles.

Theoretical task: numerical modelling of radio pulsar polarisation.

Supervisor: dr hab. Jarosław Dyks (jinx@ncac.torun.pl), CAMK Torun


Time: 20 August - 20 September (approximately)



4. Comparison between observations and simulations of real star clusters.


Star clusters contain many interesting stars, binary systems and exotic  objects. The evolution of these dense stellar systems can be modelled with advanced numerical simulation codes. The MOCCA code for star    cluster evolution (developed at CAMK, Warsaw) is one the fastest and    most sophisticated codes that can be used to investigate a variety of  astrophysical processes and objects. MOCCA can effectively compute the dynamical evolution of a star cluster and it takes into account a variety of physical processes that occur in very dense star systems like collisions, mergers, interactions, stellar and binary evolution. We have also been developing the COCOA code which can create ideal synthetic observations from snapshots of MOCCA simulations using virtually any telescope and can then automatically perform photometry on simulated images just like observers do. This allows us to compare results from our numerical simulations with actual observations of star clusters.


The results from MOCCA and COCOA can be used to investigate global parameters of star clusters and can also be used to study properties and populations of particular objects like cataclysmic variables, eclipsing binaries, blue stragglers, variable stars and X-ray binaries. For this project, the student will learn to utilize the MOCCA and COCOA codes to investigate the observational properties of exotic objects in star clusters. The project will involve analysing results of star cluster simulations, developing new codes and modules for COCOA and comparing theoretical results with real observations. The project can be tailored to suit the interests of the students.
Supervisor: Mirosław Giersz (mig@camk.edu.pl), CAMK Warsaw


Co-Supervisors: Abbas Askar (askar.camk.edu.pl), Diogo Belloni  (belloni@camk.edu.pl)

Requirements: Basic knowledge of programming (fortran, C, python, java)


Time: TBA, 4-6 weeks



5. Galactic archaeology: studying the Galactic halo with large surveys

The internship will take place within the project ``A detailed view of the distinct Galactic halo components with large spectroscopic surveys'', financed by an OPUS grant from NCN. Understanding how the Galaxy formed and evolved, and how its stellar populations formed and evolved, is one fundamental goal of modern astrophysics. In this context, the Galactic halo is the most useful stellar population. The halo contains the oldest and most metal-poor stars, which give a unique window to the early stages of Galactic star formation.

There are two possibilities of project for the summer 2016:

1) Fundamental parameters of metal-poor stars: the student will investigate different approaches to determine parameters (temperature, mass, etc) and chemical abundances of metal-poor stars using spectroscopic, photometric and astrometric data. The goal is to find the analysis method that produce the most precise and accurate results.

2) Combining large surveys for Galactic archaeology: the goal is to combine large data sets of stars analyzed by different survey projects. The student will investigate how the stellar chemical abundances change with the position of the star in the Galaxy and with the properties of the stellar orbits, to uncover clues of how the Galactic halo was formed.

For more details on the projects, please contact the supervisor.

Place: CAMK Warsaw
Time: TBA
Supervisor: Rodolfo Smiljanic (rsmiljanic@camk.edu.pl)
Language: English



6. Impact of Galactic emission contaminations on statistical properties of estimated CMB map and cosmological parameters.


Studies of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) are one of the most important pillars of observational cosmology. Together with other cosmological probes measurements of the CMB undertaken to-date have enabled the establishment of the standard cosmological model. The model is described by few cosmological parameters constrained by data. However, analysis of the observed CMB anisotropy maps requires masking the most contaminated by Galactic emission part of the sky and cleaning the remaining part from the emission. The procedure of removing Galactic emission is not unique and its impact on estimated power spectrum and cosmological parameters are not strictly studied. The project will involve studies of significance of this impact on one (or more) of the following issues:


1) estimation of CMB power spectrum

2) estimation of cosmological parameters

3) statistical properties of the CMB maps (statistical isotropy, Gaussianity, etc.)


Simulations of CMB maps and publicly available data from the Planck and WMAP satellites will be used for the analysis.


Place: CAMK Warsaw, time: TBA, 4-6 weeks

Supervisor: dr Pawel Bielewicz ( pbielew@camk.edu.pl ), CAMK Warsaw

Time: TBA, 4-6 weeks

Languages: Polish, English

Requirements: programming preferably in Fortran 90/2003, C, Python and Unix shell; experience in parallel programming and use of computer clusters is welcome



7. Modelling extreme magnetic fields in neutron stars.

Neutron stars are some of the most extreme objects in the universe. Not only do their interior densities surpass nuclear saturation density, but they are also thought to harbour ultra-high magnetic fields of up to 10^17 gauss (for comparison the strength of the Earth's magnetic field at the surface is less than 1 gauss). The magnetic field plays a crucial role in many astrophysical phenomena associated with neutron stars, from X-ray bursts to gravitational wave emission, but it's structure in the stellar interior is still an open problem. This project will focus on this problem, and include either, or both, analytical and numerical modelling to investigate magnetic field configurations in neutron stars.


Supervisor: dr Brynmore Haskell, CAMK Warsaw


Time: 4-6 weeks, August-September

Languages: English, Italian


8. Relativistic magnetic reconnection in two and three dimensional resistive magnetohydrodynamic simulations.

In many astronomical objects, reconnection is an essential part of the underlying physics. Today, we still do not have a satisfying model for reconnection, and the numerical tools to investigate it are still in the early stage of development.

Our tool is the MHD code PLUTO, in an extension of the non-relativistic setup, with which we previously studied a comparison of topology and helicities in two and three dimensional simulations. Goal is to compare the results in the special-relativistic regime with the non-relativistic ones.

The project consists in understanding of the reconnection, performing of the simulations, visualisation and analysis of the results.


Supervisor: dr Miljenko Cemeljic (miki@camk.edu.pl), CAMK Warsaw


Time: between June and September, 4-6 weeks


Languages: Polish, English



9. Gamma-ray Emission from the Youngest Radio Sources  -  CLOSED

Young radio sources thought to be young counterparts of the large scale jets observed in many active galactic nuclei. Theoretical models predict that young radio sources should be strong emitters of X-ray and gamma-ray radiation. While they are indeed commonly detected even in short observations with modern X-ray satellites (Chandra, XMM-Newton), their robust gamma-ray detections are pending. This project will require reduction, analysis and modeling of the data form the NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope (http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov). The results will have a profound impact on our understanding of the physical conditions during the initial expansion of AGN radio jets, and the interactions between the radio jets and interstellar medium. The project will be conducted in collaboration with scientists from Krakow (OAUJ), Paris (Saclay), and Cambridge, USA (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics).

Supervisor: dr Malgosia Sobolewska (malgosia@camk.edu.pl), CAMK Warsaw


Time: July-September



10. X-ray Variability of Ultra-Luminous X-ray Sources  -  CLOSED

Ultraluminous X-ray sources are extragalactic off-nuclear point sources. If they are binary star systems, then their X-ray luminosities exceed luminosities that are in a reach of a 10 Solar mass black hole accreting matter from a companion star in a standard accretion disk regime. Current explanations of the ULX phenomenon include supercritical accretion rate on a stellar mass black hole or a neutron star, or accretion on an intermediate mass black hole (1000-100,000 Solar masses). The project will require reduction of the long term X-ray data from NASA's Chandra (http://cxc.harvard.edu) and ESA's XMM-Newton (http://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/xmm-newton) X-ray satellites in order to calculate the X-ray lightcurves of ULXs. We will study the properties of these lightcurves using statistical methods for time series analysis in order to advance our understanding of the origin of the ULX variability. We will perform a comparison between the variability properties of ULXs and well studied Galactic X-ray binaries in order to learn about the ULX masses and accretion rates. The project will be conducted in collaboration with scientists from Heraklion (University of Crete) and Cambridge, USA (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics).

Supervisor: dr Malgosia Sobolewska (malgosia@camk.edu.pl), CAMK Warsaw


Time: July-September



11. Connection between accretion and jets in microquasars

We consider here binaries containing a normal star and a black hole in which matter from the star flows (accretes) towards the black hole. Usually, a fraction of the matter does enter the black hole but instead flows away from the plane of the binary forming twin jets. Such systems are called microquasars. Both the accretion flow and the jets radiate, and usually dominate the emission in the X-ray and radio ranges, respectively. The relationship between the accretion flow and the jet can then be studied, e.g., by directly correlating the two emissions, or by searching for time lags, which are expected given that the matter first accretes and then forms the jet. Furthermore, if the normal star has high mass, it emits stellar wind, which can absorb the radio emission, with the attenuation depending on the orbital phase. This may be used to determine the jet direction, which is
expected to follow the black-hole rotation axis, which may differ from the normal to the binary plane. Possible summer projects consist of analysing correlations between the radio and X-ray emissions in some microquasars, and determining the jet inclination with respect to the binary plane from the wind modulation.


Supervisor: prof. Andrzej Zdziarski (aaz@camk.edu.pl), CAMK Warsaw


Time: TBA



12. Identification of Beta Cephei stars for the TESS space mission

TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is a NASA space mission to be launched in late 2017. It will perform an all-sky survey of bright stars for transiting exoplanets, but will also have an asteroseismology program. In preparation for this mission, as many Beta Cephei stars (hot, massive pulsating stars on the main sequence) as possible need to be identified. Consequently, this summer project aims at detecting such stars from mining existing data bases and photometric surveys, such as OGLE, ASAS, WASP, or KELT. The project can evolve into a Master's or PhD thesis, if so wished.

Supervisor: prof. Gerald Handler (gerald@camk.edu.pl), CAMK Warsaw

Time: 4- 6 weeks in July - September 2016