PhD position in stellar and nuclear astrophysics

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Archive Date: 
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Pre-doctoral/Graduate Positions
Institution Classification/Type: 
Large Academic
Max Planck Institute for Astronomy
Job Announcement Text: 

PhD in Stellar and Nuclear Astrophysics

We are looking for a qualified candidate for a 3-year PhD position (with a possibility of an extension) for a nuclear-astrophysics project focusing on theory and observations of low-mass stars and their nucleosynthesis. The project is highly international and will partly be located at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) [1], Heidelberg where the student will be hired and partly at Technical University [2], Darmstadt, Germany where the PhD will be granted. Dr. Camilla J. Hansen will be the main supervisor throughout the PhD. The PhD is part of the large, recently funded EU ChETEC-INFRA project [3], and spans all three disciplines of astronomy, astrophysics theory, and nuclear experimental physics.

The goal of the project is to understand how heavy elements form – a key, open question in physics. The project focuses on how heavy elements form through slow neutron-captures which can take place in evolved asymptotic giant branch stars, either as single stars or in binary systems. Hence, a central part of the project will focus on observations of such stars, theoretical modelling of stellar evolution and nucleosynthesis, and measuring the s-process indirectly in the lab. These parts will be carried out with Dr. Richard Stancliffe at Bristol University and Dr. Ann-Cecilie Larsen at University of Oslo as co-supervisors. A central part of the project will entail direct training and extended stays at both universities. A successful candidate will have ample job opportunities in all branches of nuclear astrophysics if a further career in academia should be pursued. Moreover, through the large network [3 and] of 17 countries, the project will be guaranteed international visibility as well as access to observing time, laboratory beam time, and supercomputing hours.


Master degree in astronomy/astrophysics or related fields (physics will be considered as well if astronomy courses have been attended) at the time of the beginning of the studies. Experience with programming languages such as python, IDL, and the candidate must be fluent in English. Webpage design and C++ experience is welcome but not required.

To apply, please send a single PDF file including the five components:

1) a cover letter listing the names of referees/references (3 referees)

2) personal statement of interest explaining your motivation for pursuing a Ph.D in astrophysics specialising in either or all branches of nuclear astrophysics and observational stellar astronomy (max of 2 pages)

3) CV (2 pages max)

4) list of publications (only if applicable)

5) transcripts of your grades of courses obtained during your bachelor’s and master’s degrees with a description of the grading system.

Close attention will be paid to the personal statement of interest. The single PDF file should be sent to hansen at with the topic line ‘Application_324_YourName.pdf’.

Application deadline: July 31st (23.59 CEST) – reference letters must be sent to the same address (`Reference_324_RefereeName.pdf’) by this date for the application to be considered.

Selection: End August/early September

Included Benefits: 

Remuneration for PhD students will be according to the German public sector scale TVöD 65% E 13. Social benefits are granted according to the regulations for public service. Travel funding will be available to the student. Starting date is loosely set in Fall 2021, and can be negotiated.

The Max Planck Society is an equal opportunity employer and strives for a diverse community of employees. Applications from historically underrepresented or disadvantaged groups are particularly encouraged. MPIA supports its employees in their search for suitable child care.

Application Deadline: 
Saturday, July 31, 2021
Selection Deadline: 
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Camilla J. Hansen
Inquiries About Job
Attention To: 
Dr. Camilla J. Hansen
PhD Application 324