Detecting the first clusters of galaxies in the Universe in the maps of the cosmic microwave background

Galaxy clusters, located at the node of the cosmic web, are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the Universe. Their abundance and spatial distribution are very sensitive to cosmological parameters, such the matter density in the Universe. Galaxy clusters thus constitute a powerful cosmological probe. They have proven to be an efficient probe in the last years (Planck, South Pole Telescope, XXL, etc.) and they are expected to make great progress in the coming years (Euclid, Vera Rubin Observatory, Simons Observatory, CMB- S4, etc.).
The cosmological power of galaxy clusters increases with the size of the redshift range covered by the catalogue. The attached figure shows the redshift ranges covered by the catalogues of galaxy clusters extracted from experiments observing the cosmic microwave background (first light emitted in the Universe 380,000 years after the Big Bag). One can see that Planck detected the most massive clusters in the Universe in the redshift range 0<z<1. SPT and ACT are more sensitive but covered less sky: they detected tens of clusters between z=1 and z=1.5, and a few clusters between z=1.5 and z=2. The next generation of instruments (Simons Observatory starting in 2024 and CMB- S4 starting in 2032) will routinely detect clusters in 1<z<2 and will observe the first clusters formed in the Universe in 2<z<3.
Only the experiments studying the cosmic microwave background will be able to observe the hot gas in these first clusters at 2<z<3, thanks to the SZ effect, named after its discoverers Sunyaev and Zel’dovich. This effect is due to high energetic electrons of the gas, which distorts the frequency spectrum of the cosmic microwave background, and is detectable in current experiments. But the gas is not the only component emitting in galaxy clusters: galaxies inside the clusters can also emit in radio or in infrared, contaminating the SZ signal. This contamination is weak at z<1 but increases drastically with redshift. One expects that the emission from radio and infrared galaxies in clusters are of the same order of magnitude as the SZ signal in 2<z<3.
One thus needs to understand and model the emission of the gas as a function of redshift, but also the emission of radio and infrared galaxies inside the clusters to be ready to detect the first clusters in the Universe. Irfu/DPhP developed the first tools for detecting clusters of galaxies in cosmic microwave background data in the 2000s. These tools have been used successfully on Planck data and on ground-based data, such as the data from the SPT experiment. They are efficient at detecting clusters of galaxies whose emission is dominated by the gas, but their performance is unknown when the emission from radio and infrared galaxies is significant.
This thesis will first study and model the radio and infrared emission from galaxies in the clusters detected in the cosmic microwave background data (Planck, SPT and ACT) as a function of redshift.
Secondly, one will quantify the impact of these emissions on existing cluster detection tools, in the redshift range currently being probed (0<z<2) and then in the future redshift range (2<z<3).
Finally, based on our knowledge of these radio and infrared emissions from galaxies in clusters, we will develop a new cluster extraction tool for high redshift clusters (2<z<3) to maximize the detection efficiency and control selection effects, that is the number of detected clusters compared to the total number of clusters.

Testing the Standard Model in the Higgs-top sector in the multilepton final using the ATLAS detector at the LHC

The thesis proposes to measure in a coherent way the different rare processes of production of top quarks in association with bosons in the final state with multiple leptons at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The thesis will be based on the analysis of the large dataset collected and being collected by the ATLAS experiment at a record energy. The joint analysis of the ttW, ttZ, ttH and 4top processes, where one signal process becomes background when studying the other ones, will allow to get complete and unbiased measurements of the final state with multiple leptons.
These rare processes, which became accessible only recently at the LHC, are powerful probes to search for new physics beyond the Standard Model of particle physics, for which the top quark is a promising tool, in particular using effective field theory. Discovering signs of new physics that go beyond the limitations of the Standard Model is a fundamental question in particle physics today.


Very-high-energy (E>100 GeV) gamma-ray observations of astrophysical objects are a crucial tool for the understanding of the most violent non-thermal acceleration processes taking place in the Universe. The gamma rays allow to attack fundamental questions across a broad range of topics, including supermassive black holes, the origin of cosmic rays, and searches for new
physics beyond the Standard Model. Multi-wavelength observations of the center of the Milky Way unveil a complex and active region with the acceleration of cosmic rays to TeV energies
and beyond in astrophysical objects such as the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* lying at the center of the Galaxy, supernova remnants or star-forming regions. The Galactic Centre (GC) stands out as one of the most studied regions of the sky in nearly every wavelength, and has been the target of some of the deepest exposures with high-energy observatories. Beyond the diversity of astrophysical accelerators, the GC should be the brightest source of dark matter particle annihilations in gamma rays.
The GC region harbors a cosmic Pevatron, i.e., a cosmic-ray particle accelerator to PeV energies, diffuse emissions from GeV to TeV such as the Galactic Centre Excess (GCE) whose origin is still unknown, potential variable TeV sources as well as likely unresolved source population. The interaction of electrons accelerated in these objects produces very-high-energy gamma rays
via the inverse Compton process of electrons scattering off ambient radiation fields. These gamma rays can also be efficiently produced through decays of neutral pions from inelastic
collisions protons and nuclei with the ambient gas. Among possible unresolved source populations in the GC region are millisecond pulsars in the Galactic bulge or an intermediate-mass (~20-10^5 Msun) black holes following the dark matter distribution of the Galactic halo. About 10^3 sources would be needed to explain the GCE emission. Such source population would leave characteristic imprints in the background fluctuations for which surveys of the GC region in TeV gamma rays with the H.E.S.S. observatory and the forthcoming CTA are unique to scrutinize them.
The H.E.S.S. observatory composed of five atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes detects gamma rays from a few ten GeV up to several ten TeV. H.E.S.S. has carried out extensive observations
of the GC with recently an observational campaign of the inner several degrees around the GC. The dataset accumulated so far provides an unprecedented sensitivity to study the acceleration and propagation of TeV cosmic rays and search for dark matter signals in the most promising region of the sky. These observations are unique to shape the observation programs of the future observatory CTA, optimize their implementation, and prepare future analyses.
The PhD thesis project will be focused on the analysis and interpretation of the observations carried out in the GC region by the H.E.S.S. over about 20 years. The first part of the work will be devoted to the low-level analysis of the GC data, the study of the systematic uncertainties in this massive GC dataset and the development of dedicated background models. In the second part, the PhD student will combine all the GC observations in order to search for TeV diffuse emissions, unresolved population of sources, and dark matter signals using multi-template analysis techniques including background modelling approaches. The third part will be dedicated to the implementation of the new analysis framework to CTA forthcoming data to prepare future GC analyses using the most up-to-date signal and background templates. In addition, the PhD student will be involved in the data taking and data quality selection of H.E.S.S. observations.

High-energy transient astrophysical phenomena

The core of the proposed thesis project will be the real-time search for transient high-energy emission linked to the detection of a gravitational waves and other multi-messenger astrophysical transients like high-energy neutrinos, gamma-ray bursts, fast radio bursts, stellar/nova explosions, etc. The combined observations across multiple instruments and cosmic messengers will unequivocally prove the existence of a high-energy particle accelerators related to these phenomena and will allow to derive novel insights into the most violent explosions in the universe.
Joining the H.E.S.S., CTA and SVOM collaborations the PhD candidate will be able to lead the exciting MWL and multi-messenger campaigns collected during the physics run O4 of the GW interferometers, the first high-energy neutrino events detected by KM3NeT and the first GRBs detected by the SVOM satellite. The PhD candidate will also have the opportunity to participate in the development of the Astro-COLIBRI platform allowing to follow transient phenomena in real-time via smartphone applications.

Construction of a Micromegas tracker for the P2 experiment, and measurement of the electroweak mixing angle in electron-proton scattering

This thesis project concerns the precise measurement of the electroweak mixing angle with the P2 experiment, at the MESA accelerator, in Mainz. The measurement will make it possible to test, for the first time, the prediction of the Standard Model for the evolution of this fundamental parameter as a function of the energy scale, and the effects of possible new particles or interactions.

The determination of the mixing angle is based on a precise measurement of the variation of the scattering cross section of an electron beam on a liquid hydrogen target, as a function of the polarization of the beam. This asymmetry, measured in scattering at forward angles, is affected by significant systematic uncertainties linked to the structure of the proton. A measurement of the scattering asymmetry in the backward direction, using a dedicated detector, makes it possible to reduce these uncertainties, and constitutes the subject of this thesis.

The thesis project arrives at a crucial moment in the development of the experiment, and will allow the student to participate directly in the construction of a very high performance detector, its installation in the P2 experiment, and its scientific exploitation.

Simulation and characterization of very high intensity ion sources

Light ion accelerators (such as protons and deuterons) at very high intensity (typically exceeding 50 mA) have numerous applications in various fields of physics. From the IFMIF accelerator project, to characterize future materials for fusion reactors, to IPHI-Neutrons, to produce images through neutron radiography, CEA is involved in many projects that require the design and construction of very high-intensity ion sources. The increasing demand for intensity and beam quality from these ion sources requires a better understanding and prediction of their operation.
Ion sources are composed of a plasma chamber inserted into a magnetic coil, in which a gas heated by an RF wave is injected. The produced ions are extracted from the chamber using an electric field applied to extraction electrodes. Their operation depends on a large number of parameters. Determining an ideal set of parameters is very complex to achieve, and no software currently exists to reliably predict its proper functioning.
CEA has been working for several years on the design of a test bench, BETSI, to test and optimize various ion sources for future accelerator projects. Experimental campaigns have been conducted in the past on this test bench to systematically test sets of parameters.
In the context of this thesis, we propose to develop a simulation code that takes into account all the parameters that we can qualify on BETSI (from past experiments or new ones). We will be able then to use the code to propose new sources for upcoming accelerator projects.


Particle reconstruction in collider detectors is a multidimensional problem where machine learning algorithms offer the potential for significant improvements over traditional techniques. In the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), photons and electrons produced by the collisions at the interaction point are recorded by the CMS Electromagnetic Calorimeter (ECAL). The large number of collisions, coupled with the detector's complex geometry, make the reconstruction of clusters in the calorimeter a formidable challenge. Traditional algorithms struggle to distinguish between overlapping clusters created by proximate particles. In contrast, It has been shown that graph neural networks offer significant advantages, providing better differentiation between overlapping clusters without being negatively affected by the sparse topology of the events. However, it is crucial to understand which extracted features contribute to this superior performance and what kind of physics information they contain. This understanding is particularly important for testing the robustness of the algorithms under different operating conditions and for preventing any biases the network may introduce due to the difference between data and simulated samples (used to train the network).
In this project, we propose to use Gradient-weighted Class Activation Mapping (Grad-CAM) and its attention mechanism aware derivatives to interpret the algorithm's decisions. By evaluating the extracted features, we aim to derive analytical relationships that can be used to modify existing lightweight traditional algorithms.
Furthermore, with the upcoming High Luminosity upgrade of the LHC, events involving overlapping clusters are expected to become even more frequent, thereby increasing the need for advanced deep learning techniques. Additionally, precision timing information of the order of 30 ps will be made available to aid in particle reconstruction. In this PhD project, we also aim to explore deep learning techniques that utilize Graph and Attention mechanisms (Graph Attention Networks) to resolve spatially proximate clusters using timing information. We will integrate position and energy deposition data from the ECAL with precision timing measurements from both the ECAL and the new MIP Timing Detector (MTD). Ultimately, the developed techniques will be tested in the analysis of a Higgs boson decaying into two beyond-the-standard-model scalar particles.

We are seeking an enthusiastic PhD candidate who holds an MSc degree in particle physics and is eager to explore cutting-edge artificial intelligence techniques. The selected candidate will also work on the upgrade of the CMS detector for the high-luminosity LHC.

Artificial Intelligence for Mass Measurement of Exotic Isotopes

Artificial intelligence opens new perspectives for basic science. It is no exception for nuclear structure studied at the extreme of the nuclear chart by the Super Separator Spectrometer (S3) under construction at GANIL-SPIRAL2. The Piège à Ions Linéaire du Ganil pour la Résolution des Isotopes en Masse (PILGRIM) is a Multi-Reflection time-of-flight Mass Spectrometer (MR-ToF-MS), with state-of-the-art performances that can only be exploited fully thanks to a joint development with the FASTER ( data acquisition at LPC Caen. The PhD thesis will consist in carrying out this development with the FASTER developers and the physicist in charge of PILGRIM. Machine learning techniques will have to be employed to recognize patterns in the time-of-flight of ions extracted as bunches from the S3 Low Energy Branch. For each individual ion, the time of flight will have to be determined with sub-nanosecond precision, correcting for effects due to pile-up, gain and baseline fluctuations. This development should lead to the determination of masses of exotic nuclei with exquisite precision, enabling tests of nuclear physics models in previously uncharted territories.


The nuclear two-photon, or double-gamma decay is a rare decay mode in atomic nuclei whereby a nucleus in an excited state emits two gamma rays simultaneously. Even-even nuclei with a first excited 0+ state are favorable cases to search for a double-gamma decay branch, since the emission of a single gamma ray is strictly forbidden for 0+ ? 0+ transitions by angular momentum conservation. The double-gamma decay still remains a very small decay branch (<1E-4) competing with the dominant (first-order) decay modes of atomic internal-conversion electrons (ICE) or internal positron-electron (e+-e-) pair creation (IPC). Therefore we will make use of a new technique to search for the double-gamma decay in bare (fully-stripped) ions, which are available at the GSI facility in Darmstadt, Germany. The basic idea of our experiment is to produce, select and store exotic nuclei in their excited 0+ state in the GSI storage ring (ESR). For neutral atoms the excited 0+ state is a rather short-lived isomeric state with a lifetime of the order of a few tens to hundreds of nanoseconds. At relativistic energies available at GSI, however, all ions are fully stripped of their atomic electrons and decay by ICE emission is hence not possible. If the state of interest is located below the pair creation threshold the IPC process is not possible either. Consequently, bare nuclei are trapped in a long-lived isomeric state, which can only decay by double-gamma emission to the ground state. The decay of the isomers would be identified by so-called time-resolved Schottky Mass Spectroscopy. This method allows to distinguish the isomer and the ground state state by their (very slightly) different revolution time in the ESR, and to observe the disappearance of the isomer peak in the mass spectrum with a characteristic decay time. After a first successful experiment establishing the double-gamma decay in 72Ge a new experiment has been accepted by the GSI Programme Committee and its realization is planned for 2024.

Multi-messenger analysis of core-collapse supernovae

Core-collapse supernovae play a crucial role in the stellar evolution of massive stars, the birth of neutron stars and black holes, and the chemical enrichment of galaxies. How do they explode? The explosion mechanism can be revealed by the analysis of multi-messenger signals: the production of neutrinos and gravitational waves is modulated by hydrodynamic instabilities during the second following the formation of a proto-neutron star.
This thesis proposes to use the complementarity of multi-messenger signals, using numerical simulations of the stellar core- collapse and perturbative analysis, in order to extract physical information on the explosion mechanism.
The project will particularly focus on the multi-messenger properties of the stationary shock instability ("SASI") and the corotational instability ("low T/W") for a rotating progenitor. For each of these instabilities, the signal from different species of neutrinos and the gravitational waves with different polarization will be exploited, as well as the correlation between them.