Binary evolution and population synthesis in the context of the Gravitational Waves and the Einstein Telescope

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Saturday, December 17, 2022
Archive Date: 
Saturday, February 4, 2023
To event remaining 2 days
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Post-doctoral Positions and Fellowships
Institution Classification/Type: 
Large Academic
KU Leuven
Department Name: 
Departement of Physics and Astronomy
Street Line 1: 
Celestijnlaan 200D
Vlaams Brabant
Job Announcement Text: 

ETpathfinder & Gravitational Wave science and engineering in Flanders : The discovery of gravitational waves (GW) from merging black holes and neutron stars by Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo marked the beginning of a new era in observing our universe and scientists are keen to fully open up this new window to the (dark side of the) cosmos. The future Einstein Telescope (ET) will detect several 100 000 gravitational wave signals per year, allowing us to study the merging or the birth of black holes, and the precise structure of neutron stars or of the universe immediately after the Big Bang. Using advanced laser-interferometry, ET will achieve incredible accuracy. To develop and test the new and unique technologies required by ET, scientists and engineers from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France are setting up a joint R&D facility: ETpathfinder.

To tackle the numerous scientific and technological challenges in the broad field of GW observations, physics and engineering research teams at 4 Flemish universities (KU Leuven, Ghent University, University of Antwerp & VUB) have joined forces to setup a multi-disciplinary synergetic research environment: the Flemish Gravitational Wave Consortium (GWC – Flanders).

The Vacancy : The goal of this project is to investigate the evolution of massive stars along their path to become gravitational wave sources. Specifically, and under the supervision of Prof. Hugues Sana and dr. Pablo Marchant (KU Leuven), the selected candidate will work with binary evolution models and population synthesis codes to estimate the impact of binary evolution physics of the prediction of gravitational wave signals that will be detected by the Einstein Telescope and, vice versa, to investigate which physics can be constrained by the ET detections. The selected candidate will leverage KU Leuven’s large ongoing observational and theoretical efforts to alleviate some of the main uncertainties impacting the sub-grid stellar physics relevant for realistic stellar population synthesis computations: internal mixing processes, stellar winds, massive stars multiplicity, mass transfer, and the initial conditions of massive star evolution across the entire parameter space relevant for GW progenitors.

The Host Institute(s) : The Institute of Astronomy (IoA) of KU Leuven is a young and vibrant research group of some 90 scientists, engineers, and administrative staff, including 6 full-time and 3 part-time professors. The institute is an expertise centre in stellar physics and astrophysical instrumentation, 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 the Flemish Supercomputer Centre. The IoA is responsible for the organisation of the Master of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Advanced Master of Space Studies of the Faculty of Science, and operates 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.

The KU Leuven’s Gravitational Wave Centre is a research initiative aimed at investigating the implications of recent advances in theoretical high-energy physics for gravitational wave observations and astrophysics more generally. The Centre also acts as a platform to strengthen and coordinate nationwide collaboration on gravitational wave science for Belgium’s participation in the LISA mission and the Einstein Telescope ground-based observatory exploring the gravitational universe.

Requirements and Instructions to Apply 

Post-doc applicants must hold a PhD in astrophysics, or an equivalent diploma. For candidates in the process of completing their PhD, it is required that the PhD is awarded before the start of the contract. The ideal candidates will have a strong background in the stellar evolution of massive stars and/or gravitational wave progenitors. Relevant expertise in population synthesis or GW-based inference will be considered an asset. Proficiency in English is mandatory.

The application package should contain:

  • a curriculum vitae, with a publication list;
  • a statement of interest / cover letter (max. 2 pages);
  • a summary of previous research experience ( max. 3 pages + up to 2 pages of figures)

Applicants must also provide the names and contact details of two references who are prepared to send confidential recommendation letters should they be requested to do so.

The selection committee can 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 videoconference depending on the distance and sanitary conditions).

Further information on the position and on the project may be obtained by contacting the promotor and supervisor of the project, Prof. Hugues Sana and dr. Pablo Marchant by email ([email protected] / [email protected] ) or by phone (+32-16-32 33 46 / +32 16 33 05 47).

The application material should be submitted through the KU Leuven’s Job portal at the latest by January 31st, 2023: Apply here

Applications that do not strictly follow the application guidelines may not be properly processed and may therefore be lost. Members of minorities and underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.


Included Benefits: 

The selected candidate will be offered a 1+1-year contract, with the additional year being awarded after positive evaluation. Prolongation beyond the initial 2-year duration will be subject to performance and availability of funding. The salary will be commensurate with the standard scale for post-doc researchers in Belgium and will depend on the number of years of experience after PhD. It includes social and medical insurance as well as pension rights. The foreseen starting date is between September 1st, 2023, and January 1st, 2024 but can be negotiated towards earlier dates or later dates on best effort basis.

The postdoc will be encouraged to take up training in science and people management, science communication and grant application writing with the aim to develop a personal independent career track.

Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Selection Deadline: 
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Clio Gielen
Project Manager
KU Leuven
Department Name: 
Departement of Physics and Astronomy
Institution/Company Job ID or Reference Code: 
Inquiries About Job
Attention To: 
Hugues Sana
[IvS-PD] Binary evolution in the context of the Gravitational Waves and the Einstein Telescope