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Student Projects

Below is an indicative list of possible bachelor projects within the department of Astrophysics. Feel free to email staff members with whom you are interested in doing your bachelor project, to make an appointment to talk about the possibilities.

The Nijmegen Radio Interferometer

In June 2012, the Ulrich J. Schwarz Radio Interferometer on the roof of the Nijmegen Astrophysics Department was officially opened. Several projects are available to work with this telescope: technical/calibration projects such as measuring the antenna pattern of the dishes, but also scientific projects such as measuring neutral hydrogen in the Milky Way, studying the quiet and the flaring Sun, or trying to detect variability in extragalactic sources.
Contact: Elmar Körding

Improve weather modelling and prediction for astronomical observations

Analyse weather information from KNWI weather predictions and actual measurements to improve weather predictions for astronomical observations of radio telescopes worldwide.
Contact: Heino Falcke

Numerical Simulation of Plasma Flow and Radiation near Black Holes

Use General Relativistic Magnetohydrodynamic (GRMHD) simulations and ray tracing programs to calculate certain aspects of the appearance and properties of black holes. Potentially compare that to observational data.
Contact: Monika Moscibrodzka

Use Astronomical techniques to localise terrestrial radio sources

With LOFAR we can image an localise lightning flashes and cosmic rays in 3D. Employ those techniques used in radio astronomy to improve ground-based radio localisation and tracking services.
Contact: Heino Falcke

Development of an automated outlier detection algorithm for the Event Horizon Telescope

Write an outlier detection algorithm which uses robust statistics to identify outliers in a data stream (based on a continuity requirements or noise statistics for example). The data does not necessarily follow a Gaussian distribution and the model to which the data has to fit is not known a-priori. Can employ machine learning.
Contact: Heino Falcke, Michael Janssen

Space radio astronomy

Contribute to a study developing concepts for space-based radio interferometers trying to detect the dark ages of the early universe or the event horizon of black holes.
Contact: Heino Falcke

Radio Telescope Monitoring & Control

Contribute to software we develop to remotely control and monitor radio telescope equipment used for imaging black holes.
Contact: Heino Falcke

UV-excess source selection in the Galactic Plane Surveys

The European Galactic Plane surveys image the Milky Way in optical bands (u,g,r,i,Ha) using the INT on La Palma and the VST in Chile. One of the aims is to obtain a census of the Galactic population of stellar remnants. A large fraction of these can be found through their blue colour. This translates into a blue u-g colour, with respect to g-r. With the Northern UVEX now 90% complete and VPHAS at 40% done, now is the time to obtain a much larger sample than the one presented in Verbeek et al., 2011. Also, a simplified and more robust algorithm is in place at the moment. References: Groot et al., 2009, MNRAS
Contact: Paul Groot

Machine Learning algorithms in Astronomical Big Data

Astronomy is Big Data. With the upcoming surveys with MeerLICHT and BlackGEM and also with our completed surveys of OmegaWhite and the European Galactic Plane Surveys we have built up a large database of optical observations. To maximize the scientific yield we are now making use of machine learning algorithms to select and study populations of objects. Contact: Paul Groot

Development of data acquisition software for a scintillator array in LOFAR

We are currently building a scintillator array for the LOFAR radio observatory. Within the student project the read out software for the scintillation counters will be developed.
Contact: Jörg Hörandel

Detection of radio emission from air showers with LOFAR

Objective of the LOFAR key science project cosmic rays is the detection of radio emission from air showers. For this purpose the read-out of the LOFAR antennas will be triggered by information from an air shower detector - LORA. Aim of the student project is to analyze the data taken with the radio antennas of the LOFAR telescope and to infer the properties of the radio emission from extensive air showers.
Contact: Jörg Hörandel

Obtaining fundamental parameters of stellar black holes

In recent years we have found a number of correlations between different parameters of accreting black holes, that depend on some of its basic parameters (like the mass, the distance, etc). Some these parameters are hard to measure directly. Thus, we will use the correlations mentioned above as an indirect method to estimate these parameters. Contact: Elmar Koerding

Simulated observations of stellar populations and star clusters with Extremely Large Telescopes

The next generation of extremely large optical telescopes (ELTs) will be equipped with powerful adaptive optics systems. These will provide extremely sharp images of distant galaxies. The aim of this project is to simulate such observations by generating artificial images resembling those that will be produced by the ELTs. These simulations will be used to quantify the limits at which individual stars can be identified and studied.
Contact: Søren Larsen

Unveiling the formation process of the most massive stars with radio interferometry

O-type stars (massive stars with 20 solar masses or more) are prominent in the ecology of the interstellar medium and the evolution of galaxies, but their formation mechanism is still uncertain. Direct imaging on scales of hundreds of AU is critical to unveil the physics at work in the innermost reaches around massive protostars and to test theoretical models via comparison with observations, but the latter are limited by high extinction, clustering, and large distances. Radio interferometry is the technique to make high-angular resolution images of cosmic sources and in particular spectral line observations can provide unique information on kinematics, physical conditions, composition, and magnetic properties of the exciting gas. In the project, the student will learn the principles of interferometry, data calibration, imaging techniques, and spectral line analysis. He/she will have a choice to work on different spectral line datasets from different molecules (H2O, SiO, CH3OH, NH3) acquired with the largest existing radio-interferometers (JVLA, ALMA, VLBI) in a sample containing the most luminous high-mass star forming regions in the Galaxy.
Contact: Ciriaco Goddi

Towards a complete census of star formation efficiency in the Milky Way

Star formation is the key astrophysical process that determines the fate of galaxies and consequently the evolution of the Universe. Despite its importance, there are still many open questions, in particular regarding the efficiency of star formation. In our Galaxy, only a small fraction of the cold molecular gas ends up in stars. Why? For the first time we have the data sets needed to address this question in a complete and consistent manner: the widely used Dame et al. CO survey that traces the cold molecular gas (pre-star formation) and the new Parkes RRL survey that traces hot gas (ionized by recently formed stars). By combining these two surveys, the student will identify star-formation regions across the Galactic plane, determine their physical properties (mass, temperature, distance/size) and their star formation efficiency. These different quantities will then be correlated to find any trends in the star formation efficiency and to pinpoint their origin. In this project the student will learn how to handle spectral line observations from single dish radio telescopes and how to convert line emission into physical properties of interstellar gas. He/she will also learn and contribute to the understanding of the distribution of gas in the Galactic plane (spiral arms).
Contact: Marta I. R . Alves and Marijke Haverkorn

Simulating a CubeSat cosmic-ray detector for REXUS rocket launch.

In 2019 as part of the PR3 project [link: https://www.ru.nl/astrophysics/radboud-radio-lab/projects/pr3/] (The Payload for Radiation-measurement and Radio-interferometry in Rockets) a group of Radboud Radio Lab and TU/e students launched a rocket into space with a.o a cosmic-ray detector build to CubeSat specifications. Now the second iteration of PR3 has started and the cosmic-ray detector will also get an upgrade. For this we are looking for a student to simulate various detector designs. This design will also be the basis for a future CubeSat mission into orbit.
contact: Jörg Hörandel [email: j.horandel@astro.ru.nl], Bjarni Pont [email: b.pont@astro.ru.nl], Hamid Pourshaghaghi [email: h.pourshaghaghi@astro.ru.nl]