INPhINIT Incoming PhD: "The closest habitable exoplanets to Earth"

  Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas   Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía   Excelencia Severo Ochoa   HR Excellence in Research
February, 4th 2021
(1) Towards the understanding of the planetary systems

We study planetary systems and their stars. In the last years, the community has focused on very small stars because of the great interest they present for the discovery of habitable exo-Earths. Therefore, we work in all possible aspects of these systems, from the general statistics and physics of the formation and evolution of exoplanets and their atmospheres to the internal structure of their stars. To this aim, our group has led the construction of CARMENES, an instrument the first of its kind worldwide, currently is in operation at CAHA observatory. The group includes people with experience in theory, observations, instrumentation and management and is well known in its line of research.
The closest stellar neighbour to our Sun is Proxima Centauri. Proxima is not a solar-type star, but a small M dwarf, that is, low mass and the most abundant type of stars in our Galaxy and the nearest in distance to our Sun. Therefore, they deserve much more attention, on their own right. This will, in turn, result in a deeper understanding of this type of object and of any exoplanet they may host. Furthermore, in the past few years, we have moved from perceiving the M dwarfs as isolated systems to knowing that, according to our current understanding, there may be more planets than stars in our Galaxy, which implies a change of paradigm. This has taken us from having to study the stars alone to having to understand the complete stellar system formed by the star and their planets.
To do so, we now need to know with sufficient precision the parameters and internal structure of the host stars and understand the physical processes behind their variability, the formation and dynamics of planets around them, any possible interaction between planets and their stars and the evolution in time of the whole system. We can even start characterizing their atmospheres in search for signatures of life! The main objective of our project is searching for habitable Earth-like exoplanets around M-dwarf stars.


We welcome graduates interested in research lines in astrophysics related with stellar physics (stellar atmospheres, stellar parameters, asteroseismology, magnetic activity), formation and evolution of planetary systems and their stars, (formation, characterization, evolution and dynamics of planets, stars and debris disks) and exoplanet atmospheres.

Period (months): 
36 months

IAA is an equal opportunity institution. Applications to this program by female scientists are particularly encouraged.

Should you need any further information or assistance concerning the application, please contact the IAA at severoochoa[at]