INPhINIT Incoming PhD: "The high-resolution radio view of Luminous Infrared Galaxies: towards the Square Kilometre Array"

  Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas   Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía   Excelencia Severo Ochoa   HR Excellence in Research
February, 4th 2021
(3) Galaxy Evolution and Cosmology

Understanding the star-formation (SF) and mass assembly history of the Universe is
one of the main challenges of astronomy, as they are key to explaining how galaxies
form and evolve. Radio observations provide a unique tool to unveil SF across cosmic
time because radio emission is not obscured by dust. With the construction of the
Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in the coming years, radio astronomy will enter a new
era of high-sensitivity and high-resolution large surveys dedicated to solving this
challenge. In preparation for this, we can now use the SKA pathfinders e-MERLIN and
LOFAR arrays, the only instruments providing angular resolution comparable to the
future SKA at the same wavelengths. To be prepared to exploit the science enabled by
the SKA we first need to understand the physics of similar local objects. Our team
participates and leads the e-MERLIN legacy project LIRGI (Luminous InfraRed Galaxy
Inventory), which has observed a sample of the most luminous nearby infrared
galaxies, with SF rates, gas and radiation densities similar to galaxies at higher redshift.
The project will bring the scientific and technical background needed to design a future
SKA Key Science Programs to trace the SF and galaxy assembly history for the majority
of the observable galaxies in the Universe
LIRGI is an international project with strong leadership from the IAA: Miguel Ángel
Pérez-Torres, co-PI of LIRGI, and Antxon Alberdi, both senior researchers at the
IAA-CSIC, are experts of the field with decades of observational experience and 100+
refereed publications. The team includes Javier Moldón, a postdoc with extensive
radio interferometry experience and developer of the data processing tools required
for this project. They are members of the SKA Extragalactic Continuum Science
Working Group. Moldón is also part of the team developing a SKA Regional Centre
prototype (SRC) at the IAA, which is one of the goals of the Severo Ochoa Project at
the IAA.


The proposed PhD project aims to understand the star-formation processes in nearby
LIRGs using a combination of multi-frequency and multi-resolution radio observations.
In particular, our aim is to decompose local galaxies into their constituent parts, to
trace the nature of the InterStellar Medium in LIRGs to disentangle clumpy from
uniform environment, as well as to unveil nuclear outflows. The student will make use
of the competitive advantage of our data from the high-resolution e-MERLIN legacy
project LIRGI, a sample that includes 42 local (D < 260 Mpc) galaxies of the most
luminous infrared galaxies. The main tasks will be:
● Master the data calibration techniques for e-MERLIN and LOFAR. The host team
includes world-experts on these instruments.
● Process already available e-MERLIN continuum data from project LIRGI. Develop
analysis techniques to process the spectral line and polarization modes.
● Lead LOFAR-LIRGI proposals to complete the whole LIRGI sample.
● Process already available and new LOFAR data to study the low-frequency emission
of the sources.
● Present the results in international conferences.
● Strengthen collaborations with groups in the United Kingdom and Sweden to
scientifically exploit the rich multiwavelength LIRGs data available to the
international team.
● Participate in preparatory activities within the SKA Extragalactic Continuum Science
Working Group to participate in future calls for SKA Key Science Projects.
The successful candidate is expected to lead the publication of the e-MERLIN and
LOFAR scientific results, and to collaborate with an international team to exploit the
combined data from e-MERLIN, LOFAR, JVLA and EVN interferometers. He/she will
make full use of the computing infrastructure of the SKA Regional Centre prototype at
the IAA. The scientific and technical background gained during this PhD will prepare
the candidate for potential decade-long extensions of this project with the future SKA.

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]