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2 PhD positions in Astrophysics: The winds of hot and cool massive stars Leuven Belgium,  

KU Leuven (company)

Posted on : 28 May 2017

Project Description

The MAESTRO Project:
  • Throughout the Universe, the dynamics and chemical evolution of spiral galaxies like our Milky Way are largely controlled by the lives and deaths of stars with masses many times that of the Sun. But, the evolution of these massive stars, in turn, is highly regulated by the huge amounts of mass expelled from their surfaces, by means of powerful starlight-driven wind outflows. 
  • These stellar winds critically determine how such massive stars evolve through their lives, how they finally die in giant supernova explosions,and how they after their violent deaths leave behind exotic remnants such as neutron stars and black holes. 
  • However, large uncertainties remain, affecting the present-day predictions for massive-star evolution, including massive-star progenitor models of gravitational wave sources.
  • In this context, the MAESTRO project aims to fundamentally improve our understanding of thedriving mechanism of massive star winds, both hot and cool, throughout their entire evolution and across a large range of metallicity environment by using novel theoretical and observational methods to probe the radiation-driven winds of massive stars. 
  • Financed by our university in Belgium, the MAESTRO project will bridge the theoretical,computational, and observational expertise of 4 academic members of the Institute of Astronomy at our university, to build an interdisciplinary team to tackle these critical stellar physics questions, and to enhance the predictive power of contemporary stellar evolution models of massive stars. 

  • PhD applicants must hold a M.Sc. degree in physics, astrophysics or mathematics or else own an equivalent diploma. 
  • The degree must be dated at the latest one month before the position can be taken up. For PhD students. 
  • Expertise in astrophysic sis an asset but not a requirement. Proficiency in English is required. 
  • The application package should be sent as one single PDF containing 
    • (i) a curriculum vitae with a full publication list, 
    • (ii) a statement of interest (max. one page for PhD applicants and 2 pages for postdocs) and 
    • (iii) a summary of the research experience (e.g. master thesis; also max. one page for PhD applicants and 3 pages for postdocs). 
  • Exclusively for PhD applicants, (iv) a list of all master courses with their number of study points and the scores obtained. 
  • Applicants must also provide the names and contact details of two reference persons who would be prepared to send confidential recommendation letters should they be requested to do so. 
  • The selection committee will send out requests for such letters for those applicants on the short-list after an initial ranking. 
  • The short-listed applicants will be invited for an interview (live or via Skype).

  • The selected PhD students will be offered a 2-yearcontract, once renewable with 2 more years after positive evaluation. 
  • The salary will be commensurate to the standard scale for PhD students in Belgium;it includes social and medical insurance as well as pension rights.
  • The successful PhD applicants(will) have to register at and comply with the regulations of the Arenberg Doctoral School of the University.
  •  Good command of the English language is a requirement to be approved by the doctoral school.
  •  The successful PhD applicants will follow a doctoral programme including personal training in management, science communication, and teaching.
  •  As part of the doctoral requirements, the students will have to take up a teaching task of at maximally 4 hours per week in one of the Bachelor (in Dutch) or Master (in English) programmes. 
  • PhD students at IoA are also required to perform at least one Mercator observing run of 10 nights per year for the pooled IoA long-term monitoring programmes. 


3000 Leuven Belgium

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