The Institute of Astrophysics, KU Leuven (Belgium) seeks a highly-motivated PhD candidate to complement our team in a project to investigate binary interaction physics in low to intermediate mass stars using high-angular resolution techniques.
This project focuses on interacting systems where one of the components has gone through a giant star phase. At the end of their life some binary stars form Keplerian discs of gas and dust with similar properties to planet-forming discs around young stars (protoplanetary discs). Around evolved binaries, these scaled-up versions of discs form as the result of an unconstrained binary interaction process taking place at the end of the asymptotic giant branch evolution of the initially most massive star. Dynamical interactions between the binary and its circumbinary disc strongly influence the evolution of these objects. However, these interactions are poorly constrained and the disc's structure, dispersal and evolution remain elusive. With this project we focus on the very inner structure and aim at spatially resolving all building blocks of these systems and their interactions. We will use a combination of observational data as well as state-of-the art radiative transfer modelling tools. This project is embedded into a larger research project for which we recently obtained a large programme of observations, called “Inspiring”, at ESO/VLTI. Prior knowledge in high angular resolution astrophysics, radiative transfer modeling and/or stellar evolution would be an asset.
The selected PhD student will be offered a 2-year contract, once renewable with 2 years after positive evaluation. Starting date is between 1 September and 1 November 2019. More information and instructions to apply: https://fys.kuleuven.be/ster/vacancies#PhD_INSPIRING
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