Student Projects

Note that Master projects are being migrated to


Detecting Water Vapor Turbulence for mid-IR observations

Context: METIS is expected to be built as the mid-IR instrument for the next large telescope; the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). This instrument is expected to deliver diffraction limited images in the mid-IR wavelength range. One of the issues all instruments for the E-ELT will have to deal with are image distortions by the atmosphere. In order to compensate for these distortions, it is expected that each instrument for the E-ELT will be fitted with an Adaptive Optics system. METIS is in the unique position that due to the longer wavelength, the distortion by the atmosphere is significantly less severe. On the other hand, since both atmospheric transmission and diffraction in the atmosphere in the mid-IR wavelength region are dominated by the composition of the atmosphere, like the water vapor and to a less extend trace gasses like CO2, also the image distortions are impacted by fluctuations in the composition of the atmosphere. This is a new area which has not yet been thoroughly investigated. Several smaller studies indicated that water vapor will significantly impact the performance of METIS, but in order to decide if and how composition fluctuations need to be corrected, we first need to characterize this impact.
Description: This research project is a first project intended in a series that should lead to a comprehensive model of water vapor fluctuations and the development of methods to correct for these fluctuations. This first project is to determine in detail the impact of composition fluctuations, both on METIS, but more importantly, on the current generation of telescopes and instruments, to determine the best instrument and strategy to determine the expected impact on METIS. Based on radio observations and initial mid-IR observations some limits can be set on the likely impact of (mainly) water vapor fluctuations. These limits are used to build a model of these fluctuations and likely observables for several current instruments and METIS. Depending on the outcome of this project observations will be planned to determine the actual magnitude and impact of composition fluctuations.
Level: Bachelor or minor research Project (20-24 EC)
Earliest Starting Date: Now

Tip/Tilt AO System on the Leiden Observatory Telescope

Context: The Old Leiden Observatory will soon have a telescope for student education and projects. We will add an adaptive optics system to the telescope to improve image stability and to provide a platform for further astronomical experiments.
Description: The goal of this project is to implement and/or integrate an adaptive optics system into the Leiden Observatory Telescope. The project will include simple optical design, building and integrating an adaptive optics system onto the back of the telescope, and testing and first light operations and characterization.
Level: Major bachelors
Earliest Starting Date: Now

Broadband Transmission of Optical Materials

Context: The optical system of astronomical instruments usually includes several transmissive components, e.g., the window of the cryostat, spectral filters, and dichroic beam splitters. The materials chosen for the substrates of these components usually vary according to the bandwidth of the instrument. However, some instruments aim at a very wide-band coverage from 0.5 microns to 20 microns, which makes the right choice of materials very challenging.
Description: The goal of this project is to provide transmission curves in the range from 0.5 - 20 microns of a set of suitable materials, including their coatings. The impact of choice of material on the polarization of the transmitted light shall also be investigated. This project may be particularly suited for physics/astronomy students with interest in solid states physics.
Level: Bachelor
Earliest Starting Date: Now

Measurement of slit polarization and comparison with theory

Context: A spectrograph slit creates a certain amount of polarization. To be able to predict this instrumental polarization from a slit, a model based on waveguide theory has been established. This model can be extended to also cover other diffractive polarization effects.
Description: The student will measure the slit polarization for a range of slit widths and wavelengths. These measurements are then compared to the models.
Level: BSc or MSc/minor.
Earliest Starting Date: now
Contact: ,

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