Research Fellow in Galaxy Dynamics/Evolution

Job Summary

Post-doctoral Positions and Fellowships
University College London
Space & Climate Physics/ Mullard Space Science Laboratory
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

Research Fellow in Galaxy Dynamics/Evolution

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a Research Fellow in Galaxy Dynamics/Evolution to join the Astrophysics Group in the Department of Space and Climate Physics (Mullard Space Science Laboratory), University College London (UCL).

The position, which is funded by the Royal Society, is available immediately and is funded until 30 September 2025. The successful applicant will work with the galaxy dynamics group at MSSL (Ralph Schoenrich, Daisuke Kawata, and their collaborators) to explore the history and dynamics of the Milky Way in particular, and disc galaxies in general. In the past years, our group has pioneered a new way to constrain the inertial mass of the Galactic dark halo by measuring for the first time the current slowing of the Milky Way’s central Galactic bar using data from the Gaia satellite mission. In addition, the properties of stars captured by the main resonances of the Galactic bar provide a new way to explore the dynamical history of the Milky Way. As the slowing of galactic bars had not previously been measured, it now needs to be incorporated properly into the theory of galaxy evolution.

In the coming years, our group seeks to develop a more quantitative picture with a three-pronged approach: I) studying the slowing of central bars and its interactions with other galactic substructure, e.g. spirals or mergers, with tailored galaxy simulations; ii) describing the observables (kinematics, chemical composition, age structure of stellar populations) with improved analytical models; iii) challenging these models with data from the Gaia satellite mission and its follow-up studies. 

Our group has active projects and existing expertise in all these areas. We are looking for a candidate who has experience in at least one of the areas of galaxy simulations, analytical (distribution function) modelling, or data analysis (in particular stellar distances and/or parameters). The focus of the tasks can be adapted to some extent to the skills and goals of the successful applicant. This position comes with a generous budget for travel to conferences, as well as a training budget of £6k  (e.g. for summer schools).

The Department is located on its own campus in the beautiful Surrey Hills, surrounded by woodland, and is the UK's largest university space research group. Space science is a discipline that demands highly innovative technologies and the Department has an international reputation for excellence in this area. UCL was one of the first universities in the world to become involved in making scientific observations in space. Since 1966, the Department has participated in over 40 satellite missions with the European Space Agency, NASA (US), Japan, Russia, China and India, and flown over 230 rocket experiments.

About the role

The post holder will perform research and related activities (publications, presentations at conferences) within the galaxy evolution and dynamics group at MSSL. The research aims to make optimal use of data from the Gaia satellite mission and its follow-up surveys to explore the history and evolution of the Milky Way, as well as practice novel techniques of inference on the properties of its dark matter halo.  Please note that our Department has been granted a reduced London Allowance of £2000 up until 31 July 2023, thereafter we will be entitled to the full UCL London Allowance of £4000 per annum.

For informal queries about the post please contact Ralph Schoenrich ([email protected])

About you

The successful candidate is expected to hold or about to hold a PhD or have equivalent experience.  It is desirable for the postholder to have one or more  experience with large astronomical catalogues,  stellar parameters (particularly distances) or galaxy simulations or related simulation techniques    An ability to develop data analysis and simulations using environments such as Python, C, C++, IDL and Matlab is essential  and to have strong mathematical abilities, in particular: Bayesian methods, probability distributions, and distribution functions is a desirable skill for the post holder.

Closing date for applications is midnight on 1 April 2023.  

Compensation and Benefits

Compensation Range
$43,574USD to $52,992USD
Included Benefits

• 41 Days holiday (including 27 days annual leave 8 bank holiday and 6 closure days)

•  Additional 5 days’ annual leave purchase scheme

• Defined benefit career average revalued earnings pension scheme (CARE)

• Cycle to work scheme and season ticket loan

•   On-site open aired swimming pool

• Immigration Loan

• Enhanced maternity, paternity and adoption pay

• Employee assistance programme: Staff Support Service

• Discounted medical insurance

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2023 Mar 08
Application Deadline
2023 Apr 05
Reference Code


Dr Ralph Schoenrich