Over 200 molecules and 15 dust species have been detected in the interstellar medium, stellar winds, exoplanets, supernovae, active galactic nuclei etc. One of the most fundamental questions in astrophysics deals with the phase transition from simple molecules to larger gas-phase clusters and eventually dust grains. The outflows of evolved stars are the best laboratories to answer this pivotal question due to their rich chemistry and relatively simple dynamical structure. Aiming to establish the dominant physical and chemical processes in the winds of evolved stars, we have requested and were granted an ALMA Large Program, called ATOMIUM ‘ALMA Tracing the Origins of Molecules In dUst-forming oxygen-rich M-type stars’, the first ALMA Large Program granted in the field of stellar evolution.
The aim of the PhD positions is to establish the dominant physical and chemical processes in the winds of oxygen-rich evolved stars over a range of stellar masses, pulsation behaviours, mass-loss rates, and evolutionary phases. One student will focus on the analysis of the lower-mass asymptotic giant branch stars, the other one on the more massive red supergiant stars. The students will work in parallel to unravel the phase transition from gas-phase to dust species, pinpoint the chemical pathways, map the morphological structure, and study the interplay between dynamical and chemical phenomena for both types of stars.
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 and pension rights. The foreseen starting date is September-October 2020.
More information and application instructions can be found on https://fys.kuleuven.be/ster/vacancies#PhD_ATOMIUM