Postdoctoral Fellowship | Exoplanet Atmosphere Retrieval, Atmospheric Physics of Exoplanets

Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg

Type of Job


Astronomy & Astrophysics

Job Code: 364

Job offer from September 14, 2023

We invite applications for a postdoctoral fellowship in the research group of Paul Mollière at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany.

Our group focuses on understanding the cloudy atmospheres of gas giant planets. We want to know what the clouds of these planets consist of, how they cover their home planet, and how they evolve. Relatedly, we are interested in the multi-dimensional atmospheric structure of giant planets, and how circulation may mix chemical species through their atmosphere. This is key for obtaining a robust atmospheric composition and for subsequently constraining a planet’s formation, which may leave characteristic compositional fingerprints. We run atmospheric retrieval and climate modeling codes, using software largely developed and maintained in our group. We compare our predictions to the world’s most sensitive instruments on the ground and in space, including JWST, HST, VLTI-GRAVITY and CRIRES.

The successful candidate (m/f/d) will be engaged in the development of atmospheric models for variable self-luminous planets and brown dwarfs. This role involves working on mostly retrieval, but also climate models, aimed at piecing together a comprehensive understanding of the factors influencing the variability observed in these objects.

Prospective candidates should hold a Ph.D. in astronomy, astrophysics, or a closely related discipline. Applicants should have experience in atmospheric modeling and/or radiative transfer. Proficiency in programming languages such as Python, as well as a compiled language like C, C++, or Fortran, is essential. Familiarity with numerical methods and a background in high-performance computing would be advantageous.

Our offer

The postdoctoral fellow will have access to funds for publications, computing, and travel. Resources are also available for career development, networking and mentoring. All MPIA researchers have institutional access to state-of-the-art observing facilities, as well as a wide range of supercomputing resources.

Remuneration will be on the German public sector scale (expected to be TVOeD level E14), and depends on qualification and experience. Extensive social benefits are granted according to the regulations for public service. The Max Planck Society is an equal opportunity employer and strives for gender and diversity equality. We welcome applications from all backgrounds. Applications from historically underrepresented or disadvantaged groups are particularly encouraged.  The Max-Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities
in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals. A good work-life balance is an important concern for us at the institute. We offer our employees family-friendly working hours and provide support in finding suitable childcare facilities. If you have any questions about equal opportunities, please contact the Equal Opportunity Officer (), or Ralf Launhardt () on the subject of severely disabled persons.

Your profile

Applicants should have a PhD in astronomy or a closely related field. The appointment duration is three years. We anticipate a starting date around September of 2024.

Your application

Candidates should provide a cover letter, CV, publication list. In addition, a statement of previous and current research, and a proposed research plan (up to five pages total for both). Please upload all documents in pdf format. Please also arrange for three letters of reference to be provided separately (further details will be provided once registered in the online application portal, see link below). All application materials are due by November 30, 2023 (11:59 PM CET) and must be submitted using the online application system.

For inquiries, please contact the chair of the search committee, Dr. Paul Mollière ().

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