Category Archives: Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur

Postdoctoral position in High Angular Resolution Astronomy

The KERNEL project, hosted by Observatoire de la Cote d’Azur (OCA) invites applications for a postdoctoral research position in the field of high-angular resolution astronomy starting no later than July 1, 2020. This position is funded by the European Research Council (ERC – CoG – grand agreement #683029) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

The KERNEL project

KERNEL aims at enabling every optical and infrared astronomical facility to reach its ultimate angular resolution potential, often pushing beyond the formal diffraction limit, while preserving the full sensitivity. By looking at astronomical data as the result of an interferometric process, the KERNEL framework brings much needed robustness to high-performance observing techniques, required for instance for the direct detection of extrasolar planets.

The mission

The KERNEL framework offers a wide range applications that go from the post-processing of available archival data to high-performance focal plane metrology, partly coupled with high-contrast imaging. KERNEL now benefits from advanced data reduction tools developed over the course of the project whose effectiveness has been demonstrated by results featured in multiple peer reviewed publications.

In addition to coronagraphic imaging, observing campaigns carried out over the last five years by exoplanet hunting high-contrast imaging instruments have also made extensive use of non-coronagraphic observing modes. The KERNEL project is therefore looking for a postdoc candidate with experience in the processing of data produced by such high-contrast imaging instruments, for further processing exploit the KERNEL software tools. Anticipated applications include the KERNEL processing of sparse aperture masking (SAM) or non-redundant masking (NRM) interferometry data as well as non-saturated well-sampled full-aperture imaging data. In both cases, careful processing using the KERNEL tools will make it possible to probe for the presence of companions and asymmetric structures at very small angular separations.

How to apply

A Ph.D. in astronomy, physics, or a closely related field is mandatory. We are interested in individuals with several years of post-PhD research experience in the exploitation of high angular resolution astronomy instrumentation. The candidate would be joining an international team and be willing to collaborate with graduate students and other postdocs. The candidate will also be encouraged to find ways to apply the tools of the KERNEL project to pursue his/her personal research interests.

The candidate must possess a strong background in the modeling, reduction and interpretation of diffraction dominated data. Experience with the Python and/or the C programming language is highly desirable.

The initial appointment will be for one year. The successful candidate will be hosted by the Lagrange Laboratory, with a lab located on the campus of Valrose, downtown the beautiful city of Nice, France.

To apply, please send a copy of your curriculum vitae, list of publications and a summary of your research interests. Also arrange for two to three reference letters to be sent to Frantz Martinache ( For full consideration, applications should be received before May 4, 2020, although applications will be reviewed up until the position is filled.

This job offer has been posted on the Euraxess website.

KERNEL-Nuller: vidéo explicative

Il y maintenant bientôt deux ans, j’annonçais sur ce site l’acceptation d’un article publié avec mon collègue Mike Ireland présentant un mode d’observation interférométrique haut contraste robuste aux petites erreurs de correction par un suiveur de franges: le kernel-nuller.

Notre équipe à Nice est, en collaborant avec l’entreprise Bright Photonics en train de faire fabriquer un premier prototype de kernel-nuller, sous forme de composant d’optique intégrée. La situation sanitaire du COVID-19 complique un peu le calendrier de cette activité et de la thèse de doctorat qui y est liée, mais nous devrions pouvoir annoncer cette année, des résultats partiels d’une première intégration d’un tel composant sur un banc optique.

En attendant de voir ce composant en action, voici une vidéo mise en ligne il y a quelques jours, expliquant ce qui distingue le kernel-nuller du nuller interférométrique initialement imaginé par Ronald Bracewell à la fin des années 1970… et illustre comment le concept fonctionne!

My Innovation Is… on Youtube?

Back in November last year, the concept of kernel-nuller was featured as one of the ten projects selected by the SATT Sud-Est in the context of the innovation challenge called “My Innovation Is…”. Yesterday, the following video was posted on youtube… enjoy!

The following text was extracted from the description of the video (available here):

SATT Sud-Est and its partners present the Superheroes of Innovation, winners of the My innovation is… 2018 competition. During the third edition of the “My Innovation Is…” competition, held on November 27, 2018 at the Palais des Papes in Avignon, France, 10 researchers and future startuppers from the public laboratories of the South & Corsica Regions presented their innovative projects before a jury of experts.

Ignacio CASUSO, Inserm, is able to visualize the nervous system at the molecular level. Sébastien GIRAUD (Aix-Marseille Université) is able to evaluate proprioception to better communicate with our body. Olivier CHUZEL of Aix-Marseille Université has the power to selectively kill cancer cells. Soraya MEZOUAR (Aix-Marseille University) is developing a new therapy using placental stem cells. Eric LECHEVALLIER (AP-HM) can describe and quantify the intensity of a bleed using a connected tool. Manuel ESPINOSA of the University of Corsica controls the storage of solar energy. Christine CONTINO-PEPIN from Avignon Université is able to extract and stabilize compounds of plant origin in an eco-compatible way. Michel Alain BARTOLI (AP-HM) is developing a stent graft dedicated to the endovascular treatment of aortic diseases. Mikaël CHELLI of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice masters medical statistics thanks to an autonomous application. Frantz MARTINACHE (Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur) reveals the presence of extrasolar planets in search of habitable worlds. Faced with a merciless jury, they had to fight to convince and ensure the next generation of innovation.

It’s not every day you are called a “super-hero” of innovation 😉

My Innovation Is…

A few months ago, I heard about an innovation contest organized by SATT Sud-Est, a company that attempts to facilitate the transfer of technology from laboratories to the industry. The application process looked simple enough so I gave it a shot. It turns out that my application: basically a pitch for robust high-contrast instrumentation (aka a kernel-nuller), was among the ten selected for a live oratory contest that was held just a few days ago, in the city of Avignon inside the famous “Palais des Papes“.

Without direct industrial prospect for the kernel-nuller, it is no surprise that my pitch was not selected as the final winner. The awards went to Dr. Christine Contino-Pepin and Pr. Michel Alain Bartoli who will I have no doubt, be able to turn their ideas into profitable businesses!

Nevertheless, this was a lovely evening, and according to the feedback I received during the networking event that followed, attendees were quite intrigued and enthusiastic about the project. This is the real magic of astronomy in general and of extrasolar planets in particular that still manage to trigger people’s imagination. Even if science in general isn’t the most popular topic of conversation out there, public conferences about astronomy still manage to draw reasonably large and passionate crowds! If only we could trigger the same kind of amazement for all of the other sciences, the world would certainly be a better place!

Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches… soutenue!

Page de garde de la présentation HDR de Frantz

Le jeudi 4 octobre 2018 à l’Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, j’ai enfin pu soutenir ma thèse d’habilitation à diriger des recherches (HDR), intitulée: “Repousser les limites de la diffraction pour l’astronomie à haute résolution angulaire”.

Parlez vous SCExAO? Présentation des différents avatars des outils graphiques de contôle de SCExAO

Après une (un peu trop longue?) présentation de mon travail de recherche depuis la soutenance de ma thèse de doctorat, en juillet 2005 et une série de questions, le jury composé de:

  • Jean Surdej, Université de Liège (Président du jury)
  • David Mouillet, IPAG (Rapporteur)
  • David Mary, Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis (Rapporteur)
  • Olivier Guyon, Université d’Arizona (Rapporteur)
  • Jean François Sauvage, ONERA Chatillon (Examinateur)
  • Anthony Boccaletti, Observatoire de Paris (Examinateur)
  • Farrokh Vakili, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur (Examinateur)

m’a fait l’honneur de me décerner l’habilitation à diriger des recherches en sciences… voilà une bonne chose de faite!

Devant le transparent de conclusion de la soutenance, de gauche à droite: Jean-François Sauvage, Anthony Boccaletti, Jean Surdej, Farrokh Vakili, David Mary, Frantz Martinache, Olivier Guyon et David Mouillet


Le fichier de ma présentation (beamer PDF) compilé depuis org-mode de Emacs peut être téléchargé depuis ma page web (30 Mb)!

Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches

Dans le but de soutenir mon Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches (HDR), j’ai soumis à mes rapporteurs la première version de cette thèse, intitulée: “Repousser les limites de la diffraction pour l’astronomie à haute résolution angulaire”.

Page de garde de la HDR de Frantz

Deux versions de cette thèse sont téléchargeables ici au format PDF:

Si mes rapporteurs m’y autorisent, la soutenance de cette thèse de HDR devrait avoir lieu le jeudi 4 octobre 2018, à l’Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, sur le site du Mont Gros.

Entrée de la Grande Coupole de l’Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, sur la colline du Mont Gros, à Nice.

Pour les curieux, une page de Wikipedia explique ce qu’est la HDR et quel est le rôle de cette tradition qui ne semble exister qu’en Europe ainsi que dans quelques pays d’Afrique du Nord.

La thèse est évidemment écrite en LaTeX. Pour la mise en page, j’ai choisi d’utiliser la classe tufte-latex, inspirée par les publications de Edward Tufte. La lecture de son livre intitulé The Visual Display of Quantitative Information et de son essai intitulé Essay: The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within durant mon premier contrat de post-doctorat à l’Université de Cornell ont eu une forte influence sur ma méthode de communication scientifique: je les recommande tous les deux!