The MULTIPLES project
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. In this context, the MULTIPLES project aims at constraining the multiplicity properties of massive stars across their entire life cycle, as well as to investigate the origin of close massive binaries and to characterize the nature and frequency of post-interaction productsin populations of massive stars.
Through an ERC-CoG and additional support from the Department of Physics and Astrophysics, the KU Leuven Institute of Astrophysics is advertising 2PhD positions. The selected candidates will join the MULTIPLES / MASSIVE STAR team (4PhDs, 3PDs) under the supervision of Prof. Hugues Sanaand will work as part of an international network of collaborators. The advertised PhD positions cover the following topics.
The multiplicity of Wolf-Rayet stars
In this thesis project, the selected applicant will use new and archival data to investigate the multiplicity properties of on important class of high-mass/evolved massive stars – Wolf-Rayet stars – in the Milky Ways and neighboring galaxies using spectroscopy and high-angular resolution imaging. The observational constraints will be compared to those obtained at other mass ranges, metallicities and evolutionary stages to investigate the evolutionary connections between different populations of massive stars and their contributions to core-collapse supernovae, gamma-ray burst and gravitational waves progenitors.
The Origin of massive binaries
In this thesis project, the selected applicant will obtain on the impact/significance of multiplicity on the formation of massive stars formationthrough interferometry and high-contrast imaging of massive young stellar objects. S/he will also investigate the frequency and the role of triples and higher order multiple systems on the formation and evolution of massive binaries.
Information on the positions and on the different projectsmay be obtained by contacting the promotor of the project, Prof. Hugues Sana, by email (Hugues.Sana@kuleuven.be) or phone (+32-16-37.43.61)
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 organization 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. Similarly, expertise is spectroscopy, optical/infrared interferometry and/or massive stars is an asset but not a requirement. Proficiency in English is required. Given the expected teaching tasks, at least one of the two positions will be reserved to a Dutch speaking candidate (native or C1-level). The application packageshould be sent as one single PDF containing:
- a curriculum vitae, with a publication list if relevant;
- a statement of interest (max. one page);
- a summary of the research experience (e.g. master thesis; max. two pages);
- 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-MULTIPLES-<applicant_surname>” at the latest by May 23rd 2018. Applications that do not strictlyfollow these guidelines may not be properly identified.