New RFs 2023 - Space Science Faculty
Hosted at ESTEC
Proposal Title: Magnetars near and far - new insights into the origins of nature's most powerful explosions
Ashley (he/him) studied physics with astronomy at the University of Nottingham, before completing his PhD at the University of Warwick on the topic of gamma-ray burst (GRB) progenitors and their host galaxies. He then moved to Radboud University Nijmegen as an excellence initiative research fellow, broadening the scope of his research to include other astrophysical transients such fast radio bursts (FRBs) and fast blue optical transients (FBOTs).
Ashley’s project at ESA will focus on magnetars - extremely magnetic neutron stars which are thought to play a role in driving a wide variety of transients. He will approach the topic from both Galactic and extragalactic perspectives. On the Galactic side, he will use ESA missions such as Gaia and Euclid to search for companion stars ejected by supernovae in our Milky Way, including those producing magnetar remnants – providing a new window into their progenitor systems. He will also work on the observation, progenitor and host galaxy modelling of a range of transients in which magnetars have been implicated, from GRBs to FBOTs to FRBs, with the aid of ESA observatories such as Einstein Probe, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the NASA/ESA/CSA JWST.
Hosted at ESAC
Proposal Title: Unveil the microphysical properties of Europa and Ganymede
Having studied geosciences and planetary sciences in Paris, France, Guillaume went on to pursue a PhD at the Geosciences Paris-Saclay laboratory of the Paris- Saclay University. Guillaume's research has primarily centered on utilizing spectroscopic observations to characterize the properties of ice on the surfaces of different celestial bodies within the Solar System.
Guillaume's project focuses on the microphysical properties of icy surfaces on Europa and Ganymede, including chemical composition, grain size, surface roughness, and porosity. Characterizing these properties is key to understanding surface processes and constraining the geological history of these bodies. To do so, Guillaume uses high spectral resolution near-infrared observations from the NIRSpec instrument on the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. Combining these observations with data sets from older missions will help to understand the link between the surface and the extended liquid water reservoirs at depth. This will also help to identify areas of interest for observations by ESA’s Juice mission.
Hosted at STScI
Proposal Title: Completing the puzzle of interstellar dust grain properties in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies
Marjorie grew up in Belgium. She obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Physics and Astronomy, as well as her PhD in Astronomy at Ghent University, Belgium. At the end of 2019, she became a postdoctoral researcher at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, United States, as a member of the interstellar medium research group. In her free time, she enjoys travelling, biking and hanging out with friends.
Marjorie’s main research interest is the study of the interstellar dust properties in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies. Understanding dust is crucial as it obscures many objects in the Universe, and it is fundamental in the process of star formation and in a galaxy’s evolution. In particular, Marjorie wants to better understand the amount of dust in galaxies, the size and composition of the dust grains and the interplay between dust and stellar radiation at different wavelengths. To this aim, she uses multiple methods, including measuring dust extinction, attenuation and abundances. At ESA, Marjorie will pursue her research on interstellar dust combining multi-wavelength data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope with other space and ground-based observations.
Hosted at ESAC
Proposal Title: Broadband analysis of stellar winds in high-mass X-ray binaries
Camille studied at the University of Toulouse (France) where she obtained her bachelor degree in fundamental physics and a master degree in astrophysics, space and planetary sciences. During her master’s program, she conducted her research project at IRAP where she developed a deep interest in neutron stars. Driven by the opportunity to pursue her career in this field, she moved to Tübingen (Germany) to undertake her PhD, which focuses on the accretion mechanisms in the high-mass X- ray binary (HMXB) Vela X-1 using data from the ESA's XMM-Newton mission.
Studying the behaviour of HMXBs offers a unique chance to explore accretion onto compact objects and of wind structure in massive stars, two areas of research that are still insufficiently understood. In particular, multi-wavelength approaches are necessary to describe the material present in the wind and are also powerful tools to constrain the equation of state of dense matter in neutron stars. Camille’s project at ESA is to perform such studies through spectral analyses on a sample of HMXBs using archival data spanning from UV to hard X-rays. The aim is to determine similarities between all kinds of neutron star HMXBs and intrinsic physical processes leading to possible observed differences. The results will be used in proposals for observational campaigns with current observatories and to prepare for future X-ray missions, such as Athena and XRISM.
Hosted at ESTEC
Proposal Title: Study of small-scale Extreme Ultraviolet brightening events in the solar corona
Henrik obtained his Master's degree in Physics from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. After that, he conducted research in planet formation at the Autonomous University of Mexico and the University of Copenhagen. He then pursued a PhD at the University of Oslo and the Rosseland Centre for Solar Physics, specializing in radio observations of the Sun using the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA). Upon completing his PhD, Henrik continued his research as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oslo and Stockholm University.
Henrik's project at ESA aims to study and categorize small-scale dynamic brightening events in the solar atmosphere, which are visible in extreme ultraviolet radiation. To achieve this objective, he intends to analyze data from ESA's Solar Orbiter and other space-borne and ground-based instruments operating at different wavelength regimes. In addition numerical simulations will be used to support the observed signatures. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the formation processes of these brightening events and their potential impact on the heating of the solar atmosphere's upper layers, as well as the acceleration of energetic particles into the solar wind.
Hosted at ESTEC
Proposal Title: Developing accessible machine learning techniques to the study of Martian aeolian processes
Elena (she/her) studied geology, geography, and planetary science at The University of Western Ontario and Queen’s University (Canada) before starting her PhD in geography at the University of Calgary. Her doctoral research investigated Martian aeolian (wind-driven) analogues in the high altitude deserts of northwestern Argentina, including yardangs, periodic bedrock ridges, and megaripples. During her postdoctoral work at the Open University (UK), Elena investigated the aeolian history of Oxia Planum – the landing site for the ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover – and joined the ExoMars PanCam science team, conducting field work in Iceland to better understand how the rover’s cameras will operate on Mars.
Elena’s work at ESA will continue to investigate Martian aeolian geomorphology. Wind-driven changes to the landscape offer vital insights into geologic, geomorphologic, and atmosphic histories at multiple temporal (ancient to present-day) and spatial (site-specific to region-wide) scales. A current challenge facing researchers is analysing the vast amounts of of high-resolution orbital image data available for Mars. The goal of Elena’s research is to use commercial off-the-shelf programs to develop and apply robust, transferable, and accessible machine learning models to identify and map aeolian landforms and bedforms on Mars, greatly accelerating the rate at which terabytes of data from diverse datasets can be analysed. These datasets will help us better understand how landscapes have been, and are, modified by wind, and how this affects landscape evolution through erosion, deposition, and removal of material at local (i.e. at Oxia Planum), regional, and global scales.
Hosted at ESAC
Proposal Title: Witnessing galaxies' fate with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)
Thibaud studied physics in Marseille, France, and did his PhD in astrophysics and cosmology at LAM (Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille), Aix-Marseille University, working in particular on the photometric strategy for galaxy properties estimation in support to ESA's Euclid mission. After a first postdoctoral position in Canada, at Saint Mary's University, Halifax NS to work on the scientific exploitation of galaxy large-scale surveys combining ground- and space-based multi-wavelength observations, Thibaud came back to LAM for a second postdoc to make use of exquisitely deep and sharp observations taken as part guaranteed time with the NASA/ESA/CSA JWST.
At ESA, Thibaud's project focuses on galaxies' fate, through the study of the connection between the growth of cosmic large-scale structures and the star formation suppression (or quenching) and morphology transformation of galaxies. To that aim, he will take advantage of the most comprehensive galaxy surveys ever conducted, by combining ongoing and forthcoming observations with JWST and Euclid, in order to probe galaxy evolution since the time when the first galaxies formed at cosmic dawn, about 13 billion years ago.
Hosted at ESAC
Proposal Title: The impact of minor bodies in planetary habitability
Isabel Rebollido has obtained her PhD from the Universidad Autónoma in Madrid (Spain) in 2020, focussing on the detection of variable signals that indicate the presence of exocomets in the spectra of main-sequence stars. She then moved to the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore (USA) as a postdoc working in the Exoplanet Imaging Group. Her work now actively employs data from the NASA/ESA/CSA JWST, looking at planetary systems in the search for minor bodies. Isabel currently holds a Juan de la Cierva Fellowship from the Spanish government at the Centro de Astrobiología (CAB-CSIC) in Madrid.
At ESAC, Isabel will investigate the impact of minor bodies on the architecture and composition of planets and planetary systems, and especially whether they can constitute a delivery mechanism for volatiles and building blocks for life. As water on Earth is thought to have been accreted from asteroid and cometary impacts, these processes might be happening in other young planetary systems, too, giving astronomers hints of where to search for life in the future. Isabel will combine ground-based observations from facilities around the globe with groundbreaking space-based facilities such as NASA/ESA/CSA JWST, NASA/ESA HST and ESA’s Cheops. Her work will inform future missions such as ESA’s Plato and Ariel.
Hosted at ESAC
Proposal Title: Surface-exosphere interactions in the environment of airless bodies: Application to meteoroid impacts contribution to the exospheres of the Galilean moons Europa and Ganymede
Rozenn graduated from the aerospace engineering school IPSA (France). She discovered planetary science during her final-year internship at the Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique (LPG) in Nantes, France. She subsequently decided to pursue her scientific career as a PhD candidate at the Laboratoire Atmosphères & Observations Spatiales (LATMOS) in Guyancourt, France, where she studied the exosphere of Mercury with PHEBUS, the UV spectrometer on board the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission.
At ESA, Rozenn intends to study the interaction between the surface and the exosphere of the Galilean moons Europa and Ganymede and more precisely the contribution of meteoritic impacts to the formation of the exosphere. The composition of the exosphere is an indicator of the surface’s composition and provides information on the surface aging. She will use micro-meteoroid environment models for the Interplanetary space and the Jovian environment, developed at ESA, in the Exospheric Global Model (EGM). She will compare the results of the exospheric model to the compositional maps of Ganymede and Europa derived from Galileo/NIMS and VLT/SINFONI. This research aims to prepare for the future missions to the Jovian system, for example ESA’s Juice and NASA’s Europa Clipper.
Hosted at ESAC
Proposal Title: Widespread solar energetic particle events at 0.3 au. New insights from Solar Orbiter and BepiColombo
Laura studied Aeronautical Engineering at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain), doing her final project at the Technische Universität München (Germany). She worked for the Aerospace Industry for more than 12 years travelling all around the world. In 2014, she moved to Science and started a master in Space Science and Technology at the Universidad de Alcalá (Spain), being awarded with the master Extraordinary Prize. Funded by the ESA-NPI programme, she started her PhD in Heliophysics at the same university. During her PhD studies, focused on the spatial distribution of solar energetic particles in the inner heliosphere, she completed an international stay at NASA Goddard and joined the team of the energetic particle detector (EPD) on board ESA’s Solar Orbiter mission.
Laura's project aims to disentangle the "whys, whens, and hows" of the solar activity that generates energetic particles filling the heliosphere. To do so, she will use the unique observations from ESA’s Solar Orbiter and ESA/JAXA BepiColombo missions to study the angular spread of particles, probing closer to the Sun and comparing the results based on measurements by spacecraft located closer to the Earth's orbit. This study is important for Space Weather applications and for the understanding of the physics behind the acceleration and propagation of solar energetic particles.
Hosted at ESAC
Proposal Title: Prepation for detection of circumbinary planets with PLATO
Matthew Standing is an astronomer from Wales. After receiving his masters degree in astrophysics at Cardiff University he joined the defence engineering sector for two years. He then decided to return to academia and carried out his PhD at the University of Birmingham on the discovery of circumbinary planets, that is planets which orbit both stars of a central binary star system, using ground-based radial velocity observations. Following his PhD, he joined the exoplanet team at the Open University to search for exoplanets as part of the Dispersed Matter Planet Project (DMPP).
Matthew’s project at ESA aims to increase the number of detections of circumbinary planets, and prepare for their detection with ESA’s upcoming Plato mission. Circumbinary planets were once confined to science fiction (for example, Tatooine from Star Wars), and to date only 15 have been discovered orbiting main sequence binary stars. Circumbinary planets have a unique formation environment that can help astronomers understand some of the mechanisms at play in planet formation around single stars, and, in-turn, how our own Solar system formed. ESA’s Plato mission is expected to double the number of circumbinary planet discoveries with its long stares, but due to the complex orbits of these planets, Matthew will need to utilise special techniques to find these proverbial needles in the haystacks of data that Plato will produce.
Hosted at ESTEC
Proposal Title: A complete spectroscopic study of campfires
Andy grew up in Hong Kong, and moved to the United Kingdom in 2013. He studied physics and theoretical physics at Imperial College London (UK) and King’s College London (UK). After graduating in 2019, Andy completed his PhD in Solar Physics at University College London (UK), specialising in EUV spectroscopic observations of the solar corona, and interpreting the evolution of coronal composition in various solar structures, activities, and heating processes.
At ESA, Andy's work focuses on obtaining a full understanding of small solar atmospheric explosions called ‘campfires’. These events are slightly more energetic than nanoflares, which are considered to be one of the key candidates contributing to the coronal heating problem. With the launch of ESA’s Solar Orbiter, we can now regularly observe these tiny reconnection events, providing novel and valuable data linking flares, nanoflares and coronal heating. Andy’s goal is to establish this direct connection between campfires and nanoflare heating. To achieve this, he will use both JAXA/ESA Hinode and ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter to gain a complete spectroscopic understanding of campfires. He will also quantify the evolution of elemental abundances in these small transient events. Andy’s study will be key to ultimately put crucial constraints to help solve the coronal heating problem.