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Student of astrophysics succeeded in the European Space Agency

Brno, 10 December 2015

Vladimir Domček, a master's student in astrophysics at Masaryk University, has successfully completed a six-month stay at ESAC, a branch of the European Space Agency in Madrid. During his stay he discovered several interstellar clouds, moving close to the active core of the galaxy NGC 985, while analysing new X-ray data measured by XMM-Newton. The discovery, along with the positive experience from abroad, motivates him for doctoral studies, as well as to support his classmates at graduation similar European projects.

Vladimir Domček comes specifically from Slovakia, but he studies for the fifth year at Masaryk University in Brno. In his thesis, specializing in high-energy astrophysics, he is also dedicated to interstellar matter, galactic nuclei and black holes. Last year, at this time, he decided to try working abroad and entered the ESAC Traineeship program. This program of the European Space Agency (ESA) has tradition of more than ten years and each year lists approximately twenty projects of various astronomical and planetary missions. University students from ESA Member States can attend the program. During the selection process they go through two rounds (including the interview in English). The successful of them will learn to process data using the most advanced methods, gain objective insight into the scientific environment and make new contacts and friendships. As Vlado says: „I would like to motivate for this work placement every ambitious student who would like to develop himself further.“

The project, which Vladimír chosed, involved analyzing data from X-ray satellite XMM-Newton. The telescope, orbiting the Earth at a distance of 7-114 thousand kilometers, was aimed at the active galactic nucleus (AGN) of the galaxy NGC 985. Within the nucleus of the galaxy lies a supermassive black hole, on which falls the surrounding interstellar material. The friction heat the gas at high temperature and so it emits strong ultraviolet radiation and X-rays. Farther from the central areas one can find slightly colder clouds, called Warm absorbers, which lead to a partial absorption of X-rays originating from the immediate vicinity of the black hole. This phenomenon iwas studied by Vladimir, and after five months of data analysis he found five different warm absorbers. Since his outcome will soon be published, the master's student will obtain the first catch to his list of scientific publications.


„Of course, my whole stay was not just about job. We have spent together a lot of time with other trainees, whether by organizing trips to the mountains, the sea or to magical Spanish cities like Toledo, Granada and Barcelona,“ Vlado says. He recalls on the evening observing of the night sky in the ESA or on active social life associated with exploring the secrets of Madrid. The fact that this year's group of trainees belonged to an exceptional one, is evident in Tech for space project, invented and successfully implement by these students. The project aims to promote international collaboration of students, their science projects, expanding teams and exchange experiences.

ESAC Traineeship program is listed also for the next year, 2016. Students should therefore not hesitate to submit their application by 12 January 2016. If they will be chosen for this unique program, they will enjoy the scientific work in a professional environment of the European Space Agency. „For me personally it was not only an excellent addition to my thesis, a CV and a springboard for future careers, but also experiences with friends alongside learning a new culture.“

If you have questions you can contact directly to Vladimir: domcek@physics.muni.cz

For more information on ESAC Trainees program, visit these website. About student's program Tech for Space you can read more here.

Mgr. Lenka Zychová, zychova@physics.muni.cz


European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) is a part of the European Space Agency near Madrid. It is a center that is dedicated to technical support, as well as data archiving and distributing them to the world. Observation mission plans as SOHO, Rosetta, Venus Express or Gaia are created here.