4 PhD positions at KU Leuven, Belgium: Massive Star Binaries and Stellar Winds

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Friday, December 22, 2017
Archive Date: 
Friday, February 2, 2018
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Pre-doctoral/Graduate Positions
Institution Classification/Type: 
Large Academic
KU Leuven
Department Name: 
Institute of Astrophysics
Street Line 1: 
Celestijnlaan 200D
Vlaamse Brabant
Job Announcement Text: 

A Massive Stars Excellence Center

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. The evolution of these massive stars, in turn, is highly regulated by their multiplicity and by the mass and angular momentum exchanged through binary interaction, and by the huge amounts of mass expelled from their surfaces by means of powerful starlight-driven wind outflows. These fundamental properties critically determine how these massive stars live and die, and control the nature and properties of the compact remnants – neutron stars and black holes – that are left behind. However, large uncertainties remain, affecting the present-day predictions for massive-star evolution, including massive-star progenitor models of gravitational wave sources.


The Vacancies

Through multiple prestigious grants (ERC-CoG, KU Leuven C1), the KU Leuven Institute of Astrophysics is establishing a strong research pole on massive stars. Applications are now invited for PhD positions. The selected candidates will join the MULTIPLES team (Massive Binaries, under the supervision of Prof. Hugues Sana) or the MAESTRO team (Stellar Winds: under the supervision of Profs. Leen Decin, Jon Sunqvist, Hugues Sana and Alex de Koter) and will work as part of an international network of collaborators. The advertised positions cover the following topics. More information can be found on the associated webpages.

PhD position: Spectroscopy of Hot Massive Star Winds

PhD position: Spectroscopy of Young Massive Binaries

PhD position: Spectroscopy of Evolved Massive Binaries and Binary Products

PhD position: Theory of Red Supergiant Winds


The Host Institute

The Institute of Astronomy (IoA) of Leuven University in Belgium is a young and vibrant research group of some 50 scientists, engineers, and administrative staff (fys.kuleuven.be/ster), including 6 full-time and 3 part-time professors. The institute is an expertise centre in stellar physics and is active in several international consortia and collaborations, involving telescopes at observatories worldwide and in space. Members of IoA have access to parallel computing facilities at Leuven University. The IoA is responsible for the organisation of the 2-year Master in Astronomy & Astrophysics of the Faculty of Science and owns the 1.2m Mercator telescope at Roque de los Muchachos, La Palma Observatory, Canary Islands. The institute has a long tradition in instrumental, observational, and theoretical studies of stellar evolution


Requirements and Instructions to Apply

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 astrophysics is an asset but not a requirement. Proficiency in English is required. The application package should be sent as one single PDF containing:

  1. a curriculum vitae, with a publication list if relevant;
  2. a statement of interest (max. one page);
  3. a summary of the research experience (e.g. master thesis; also max. one page);
  4. a list of all master courses with their number of study points and the scores obtained.

Applicants are invited to state their preferred PhD topic(s), if any. 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 application material should be sent by e-mail to Clio.Gielen@kuleuven.be with subject “PHD-APPLICATIONS-<applicant_surname>” at the latest by February 1st 2018. Applications that do not strictly follow these guidelines may not be properly identified.

Information on the positions and on the different projects may be obtained by contacting the (co-)promotors of the projects.

Prof. Leen Decin: email (Leen.Decin@kuleuven.be) or phone (+32-16-32.70.41)

Prof. Hugues Sana: email (Hugues.Sana@kuleuven.be) or phone (+32-16-37.43.61)

Prof. Jon Sundqvist: email (Jon.Sundqvist@kuleuven.be) or phone (+32-16-37.43.61)

Prof. Alex de Koter: email (A.deKoter@uva.nl) or phone (+32-16-37.43.61)

Pay Compensation
Salary Min: 
$25000.00 (USD)
Included Benefits: 

The selected PhD students will be offered a 2-year contract, 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 foreseen starting date is October 1st 2018 but can be negotiated.

The successful PhD applicants will have to register at, and comply with, the regulations of the Arenberg Doctoral School of the Leuven 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 maximum 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.

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Selection Deadline: 
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Clio Gielen
Inquiries About Job
Attention To: 
Clio Gielen