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Doctorate in Astrophysics

The objective of the Doctorate in Astrophysics is to train high-level researchers who in the future make full scientific use of the existing infrastructure for astronomy in Chile. Our program includes both observational astrophysicists who create and execute scientific projects that make direct use of telescopes, as well as theorists whose work is the physical-mathematical modelling of observed phenomena.

Graduate profile:

A Doctor of Astrophysics will independently carry out original, novel and relevant research in the general area of ​​astrophysics. This implies a well-developed critical capacity and independence of judgment, and a great capacity for self-learning. In particular, it will require a strong base of knowledge and understanding of physics and its application to astronomical phenomena, while also including a broad culture in astrophysics and the most relevant problems of this science today and detailed knowledge of a particular area of ​​it.

The objective of the Doctorate in Astrophysics is to train high-level researchers who in the future make full scientific use of the existing infrastructure for astronomy in Chile.

Benefits of studying at the Institute of Astrophysics at PUC-Chile:

  • One of the leading Astronomy centers in Latin America.
  • Active and dynamic international community comprised of 16 faculty, ~30 postdocs, and ~50 graduate students.
  • Latest frontier research in cosmology, galactic and extragalactic astrophysics, astrochemistry, astronomical instrumentation, high energy astrophysics, and numerical simulations.
  • Access to 10% of the time in all telescopes installed in Chile, including APEX, ALMA, Paranal, La Silla, Las Campanas, Cerro Tololo, etc.
  • Rich and vibrant scientific environment, including mentorship with world-class faculty, weekly seminars and colloquia, daily journal-club discussion, group meetings, strong visitor program, exchange programs with various international institutions (formal double degree agreements with Heidelberg University, University of Maryland and Padova University; informal exchanges of weeks/months/year with any institution where we have researchers collaborating), and travel to national and international conferences. The program offers plentiful opportunities for networking and collaboration at many levels.
  • Doctoral scholarships guaranteed for the duration of the program, covering living expenses and 100% tuition and fees.
  • Financing for research trips, publications and computers.
  • The official language of the Institute is English.

Application date: from August 16th to September 16th, for studies beginning in March 2023.

ESO/B. Tafreshi (twanight.org)

The research lines of the program cover the vast majority of current frontier research areas in astrophysics, which are covered by our academic staff from both an observational (experimental) and theoretical perspective. These lines include:

– Stellar astrophysics: internal structure and evolution of stars, binary stars, variable stars, compact stars, astroseismology, supernovae, chemical abundances, initial mass function, magnetohydrodynamics, stellar rotation, magnetic fields, astrophysical tests of fundamental physics, star formation.

– Galactic astrophysics: stellar clusters and populations, stellar dynamics, structure and evolution of the Milky Way, the bulge and the galactic center, galactic disk and halo, kinematic and spectroscopic mapping, galactic archaeology, the Local Group, dwarf galaxies, field cosmology near.

– Extragalactic astrophysics: evolution of galaxies and galaxy clusters, globular cluster systems, gravitational lensing, galactic nuclei, active galaxies, supermassive black holes, mapping of galaxies from radio to X-rays, low surface brightness galaxies, distance scale, matter and dark energy.

– Experimental astronomy and instrumentation: optical and infrared spectroscopy, microwave telescopes, CCD detectors, adaptive optics, atmospheric turbulence.

– Astrochemistry: interstellar medium, star formation regions, chemistry of protoplanetary discs, chemistry of stellar populations in the galactic bulge, disk and halo.

– Computational Astrophysics and Big Data: cosmological simulations, hydrodynamic and gravitational simulations of N bodies, background radiation maps, processing of large volumes of survey telescope images, machine learning methods for astronomical applications.

– Cosmology: dark matter and energy, galaxy formation, large-scale structure, cosmological numerical simulations, cosmic microwave background radiation.

– High Energy Astrophysics: cosmic ray, gamma-ray and X-ray astrophysics, X-ray binaries, supernovae, gamma-ray bursts.

Semester Course Name Credits Total per semester
ASP9110 Physical Process in Astrophysics 10 45
ASP9304 Frontiers of Astrophysics A 5
ASP9201 Research Work A 20
ASP5302 Advanced Extragalactic Astrophysics 10
ASP9305 Frontiers of Astrophysics B 5 45
Elective I 10
ASP5205 Advanced Stellar Astrophysics 10
ASP9202 Research Work B 20
ASP9203 Research Work C 20 50
ASP9306 Frontiers of Astrophysics C 5
Elective II 10
ASP9120 Astrophysics Seminar 10
ASP9204 Versatility in Research 5
ASP9002 Qualifying Exam 0
CPD0002 Ethics and Integrity in Research 0 50
ASP9008 Thesis Proyect 50
ASP9721 PhD Thesis I 50 50
ASP9722 PhD Thesis II 50 50
ASP9722 Annual Monitoring Activity I 0
ASP9723 PhD Thesis III 50 50
ASP9724 PhD Thesis IV 50 50
ASP9005 Annual Monitoring Activity II 0
ASP9006 Scientific Article or Patent 0
ASP9007 Internship 0
Total Credits PhD Program in Astrophysics 390

Graduation requirements:
– Have approved the corresponding study plan.
– Have had a minimum stay of four semesters in the program.
– Have approved the thesis work, including the defense exam.
– Certify proficiency in the English language at an advanced level (ALTE 3) and with application in academic settings.
– Be the lead author on at least one scientific article under review in a mainstream journal or book or be the lead author of a pending patent.
– Have approved at least three transversal skills workshops offered by the College of Doctoral Programs (CPD), one of which must be of an ethical nature.
– Carry out an internship/research stay abroad, with teams that work on topics related to the respective thesis.

Program of study until first term 2021.

– Barrientos, Felipe (Ph.D. University of Toronto, Canadá): Evolution of Galaxies and Clusters of Galaxies; Gravitational Lensing.
– Bauer, Franz E. (Ph.D. University of Virginia, EE.UU.): Black holes (stellar, intermediate, supermassive); Galaxy + SMBH formation and evolution; X-ray binaries and ULXs; Supernovae and exotic transients; Gravitational Wave/Multi-messenger events.
– Catelan, Márcio (Ph.D. Universidad de Sao Paulo, Brasil): Stellar Evolution; Globular Clusters; Variable Stars.
– Chanamé, Julio (Ph.D. The Ohio State University, EE.UU.): Stellar dynamics: dark matter, black holes, gravitation, galaxies, star clusters; Stellar structure and evolution: theory and observation; Milky Way structure; Galactic stellar populations; Galactic archaeology and the Local Group; Wide Binaries.
– Clocchiatti, Alejandro (Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin, EE.UU.): Supernovae; Cosmological Distance Relations.
– Dünner, Rolando (Ph.D. Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile): Experimental Astronomy and Instrumentation; Large Scale Structure and Cosmology.
– Galaz, Gaspar (Ph.D. Université Paris VII, Francia): Stellar Content in Galaxies; Low Surface Brightness Galaxies; Statistical Properties of the Galaxy Distribution; Galaxy Evolution; Morphological and Spectral Classification of Distant Galaxies Observational Cosmology.
– Guzmán, Viviana (Ph.D. Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Francia): Astrochemistry; Interstellar Medium; Star-forming Regions; Protoplanetary Disks.
– Infante, Leopoldo (Ph.D. University of Victoria, Canadá): Large Scale Structure, Galaxy Formation and Evolution; Large Surveys.
– Padilla, Nelson (Ph.D. Universidad de Córdova, Argentina): Large Scale Structure Simulations and Observational Surveys.
– Petrovich, Cristobal (Ph.D. University of Princeton, EE.UU.): Gravitational dynamics and exoplanets; Stellar and compact-object systems; Gravitational-wave sources.
– Puzia, Thomas H. (Dr.rer.nat Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Alemania): Galaxy Formation and Evolution; Star Cluster Systems and Stellar Populations in Galaxies.
– Tissera, Patricia (Ph.D. Universidad de Córdova, Argentina): Computational astrophysics; Models and Simulations of the Formation of Galaxies.
– Treister, Ezequiel (Ph.D. Yale University, EE.UU.): Formation and Evolution of Supermassive Black Holes.
– Zoccali, Manuela (Ph.D. Università di Padova, Italia): The Galactic Bulge; Stellar Populations; Chemical Abundances; Galactic Globular Clusters; The Initial Mass Function.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in Astronomy or Physics (or related areas), full-time dedication, and good command of the English and/or Spanish language. Previous research experience, while not a requirement, is considered positive.

Application documents:

  • Letter outlining applicant’s motivation to train as a researcher in astrophysics, and in particular at IA-PUC, research experience (if any), research interests, and career plans and goals (max 2 pages).
  • Curriculum Vitae, including list of publications, if any (maximum 3 pages).
  • A minimum of two and a maximum of three letters of reference, in Spanish or English, written by people who know the applicant well and can give a thorough assessment of the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses (e.g., classwork, teaching, investigation, and personal character).
  • Official academic transcripts, in English or Spanish, with a clear indication of the grade scale and student ranking.
  • Academic degree certificate, or letter from academic institution indicating the expected date of graduation.
  • Any other background that the applicant would like to add, for example the result of a standardized test such as the GRE or TOEFL.

All the application documents (with the exception of the reference letters) must be sent through our application form. Shortlisted applicants will be scheduled for interviews. All questions should be directed to gradapp@astro.puc.cl.

From this background, the Postgraduate Committee will prepare a candidate ranking based on the following scale:

Cover Letter: 10%
Academic background: 20%
Reference letters: 25%
Curriculum Vitae: 15%
Interview: 30%

Those selected who accept our offer will be contacted to initiate procedures related to health insurance (FONASA, ISAPRE or other), visa for foreign students, etc.

The Institute of Astrophysics and the PUC are committed to offering equal opportunities and diversity in their working community, including religious freedom. Minority applications are especially welcome.

Application date: from August 16th to September 16th, for studies beginning in March 2023.

Students accepted into the Doctoral Program in Astrophysics will be guaranteed a stipend for living expenses and 100% of the tuition fee for the duration of the program, i.e., 4 years / 8 semesters.

Enrolled students may access the following documents and forms:

1-. Form to request record (of enrolled student, concentration of grades, other)

2-. Form to request subject validation

3-. Rules for preparing the thesis

4-. Thesis format information