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General introduction

The PhD. Program in Astrophysics, jointly offered with the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), provides students with opportunities to pursue original research on the frontiers of astronomy and astrophysics and requisite training in the fundamentals of astrophysics. Students may choose a research project from the principal areas of modern theoretical and experimental astrophysics.

The Astrophysics program features specialized research partnerships with some of the most significant research centers, like INAF, ESO, ESA, EVN and NRAO.

Educational objectives of the PhD course

This PhD course aims at training young researchers to carry out independent research activities in different fields of astronomy and astrophysics (stellar and extragalactic astrophysics, cosmology, technological and computer applications in astrophysics).

In general, our PhD students are expected to become familiar with scientific methods that could potentially be used also in frameworks not necessarily related to astrophysics, like for instance executive cadres in private/public organizations and to treat complex systems.

Research activities carried out by the PhD students

Fundamental research (both theoretical/modeling and experimental/observational), focused on: Stellar and Planetary systems (formation and evolution, final phases, star clusters); Galaxies (single objects, galaxies with AGN, dynamics and formation, galaxies in groups and clusters); Cosmology (models, large scale structure, cosmic microwave background radiation). Applied research, related to the development of numerical codes and/or astrophysical instrumentation in different wavebands, ranging from radio to X- and gamma-rays. The activity can include the acquisition of data at the main national and international facilities (INAF, ESO, ESA, EVN, NRAO, etc.) and the preparation of proposals for observations with ground-based and space telescopes or for supercomputers. The research activity requires the development and/or usage of numerical codes to model and analyze the data, the extensive usage of databases, and the bibliographic research.

Activity for the education to the research

The PhD students are expected to attend specialized courses organized by the Doctorate staff and by the Department of Physics and Astronomy. They are also expected to attend the colloquia organized weekly at the Department of Physics and Astronomy and at the INAF institutes located in Bologna and some national and international schools organized in collaboration with other universities. They become members of research teams, within which they carry out their PhD research activity.

International relations

The PhD students participate actively to research projects of international value, often in the context of extended international collaborations. Almost all the observational activity is based on the most advanced ground-based and space instrumentation, the access to which is guaranteed by the italian presence in european organizations for astronomy (ESO, ESA) and by specific international agreements (LBT, EVN, ASTRONET, etc). The research activity for PhD theses are acknowledged by different international institutions (like NRAO and EVN). All the internal activities (courses, seminars, reports, etc.) are given in english, as well the written final dissertation. Foreign researchers are regularly members of the defense committee. Long visits (3-6 months) to foreign scientific institutions are strongly recommended: to this goal a dedicate grant (Marco Polo Program) is reserved for PhD students.

Moreover theses in the framework of international joint supervision (cotutela) or for european degrees (i.e. Doctor europaeus) are strongly supported. The attendance to international meetings (with presentation of results) are strongly encouraged. Different Ph doctors or current students come from foreign countries. The participation of foreign candidates to the selection process is helped thanks to the use of videoconference (i.e. skype) for the interview.

Expected results

Thesis written in english, talks at (national/international) meetings, publication of the results extracted from the thesis (at least one by three years after the defense) on international refereed journals; reports on possible technological and/or computational applications.

Carrier development and job opportunities after the PhD

  • research and teaching activity at Universities, (national/international) research centres and industries;
  • educational activities at high schools;
  • software development;
  • activities related to scientific publishing trade;
  • research and development activities in private and public organizations for handling of large databases;
  • analysis and forecasts for complex systems in public and private institutions;
  • more in general, activities related to research, innovation, education, production, forecast and prevention in the sector of advanced services.