Astronomer (Post-Doctoral Research Fellow)

Open & closing dates

03/30/2018 to 01/28/2019


$67,643 to $105,400 per year


This advert is for the position of Astronomer (Post-Doctoral Research Fellow) in the Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Sciences Division (SSP) of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) under the supervision of Dr. Matthew Holman and Dr. Matthew Payne. The purpose of this position is to undertake theoretical and observational research related to (a) the detection of Solar System minor planets, and (b) the orbital dynamics of Solar System objects.


1. Undertake scientific research drawn from the list of potential research topics below: a. Contribute to the ongoing IMACS occultation survey for sub-km KBOs by undertaking observations using the IMACS instrument on the Magellan Baade telescope. b. Contribute to the ongoing IMACS occultation survey for sub-km KBOs by refining the data analysis pipeline used to reduce the observational data and detect occultation events. c. Conduct an unbiased survey of Centaurs and other outer Solar System objects using extant Pan-STARRS data. It is anticipated that this data search will utilize novel heliocentric linking algorithms. d. Use the novel heliocentric linking algorithms developed by Holman & Payne to conduct an analysis of the combined Pan-STARRS and DES data sets, with the aim of discovering new Trans-Neptunian Objects and Centaurs. e. Assist in the augmentation of the novel heliocentric linking algorithms with the aim of making said algorithms able to robustly link observations of fast-moving objects (such as NEOs) across long time-spans. f. Undertake dynamical investigations to elucidate the dynamics of the outer Solar System, with the aim of understanding whether the observed properties of the trans-Neptunian objects can be used to constrain the existence and/or orbit of the putative Planet-9.2. Prepare scientific manuscripts for journal publication, and present results at relevant scientific meetings and conferences.3. Perform other scientific duties identified by the Supervisor.Additional duties at Grade 12:Formulate and conduct original programs of independent astronomical research, with an emphasis on understanding the Solar System’s minor planets.


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