3 Postdoctoral Positions, 2 PhD Positions, and 1 Software Postdoctoral position for the SOUL project at KU Leuven

The application deadline is 25/04/2024.

We invite motivated candidates to apply for PhD and postdoctoral positions as part of the new Centre of Excellence SOUL (https://fys.kuleuven.be/ster/research-projects/soul/soul): Stellar evOlution in fUll gLory, a long-term project receiving structural funds from the Flemish government and awarded to Conny Aerts, Hugues Sana, Leen Decin, and Tom Van Doorsselaere. SOUL bridges the Institute of Astronomy (IoA) and the Centre of mathematical Plasma Astrophysics (CmPA) of KU Leuven in Belgium and aims to develop 3D models of evolving close binaries and star-planet systems. The 4 PIs are well embedded in international consortia and collaborations, involving worldwide observatories on ground and in space, as well as high-performance computing centres.

The vacancies

The following initial SOUL positions at KU Leuven (Belgium) are offered:

(1)  A 2-year postdoctoral position with the prospect of an extension up to 4 years. This position is aimed at the construction of numerical 3D magnetohydrodynamic models of stellar atmospheres. The first step is to implement a new physics module in an existing numerical code, either MPI-AMRVAC (in Fortran) or COOLFLUID (in C++). Thus, experience in working with HPC codes and supercomputing is desirable. The new physics module incorporates Alfven and kink wave heating of the stellar atmosphere based on a working 1D proof-of-concept. Then, the new numerical code will be applied to construct models for atmospheres and stellar winds in the cool star regime. For this, experience with stellar magnetic fields and their extrapolation is desirable. Inquiries: tom.vandoorsselaere@kuleuven.be

(2)   A 2-year postdoctoral position with the prospect of an extension up to 4 years. This position is aimed at understanding the gas-phase chemistry and dust nucleation phases in evolved (binary) stars, with a particular focus on Asymptotic Giant Branch stars. The first step will be to include a recently developed neural network emulating gas-phase chemistry (MACE) within the SPH hydrodynamical code PHANTOM allowing on-the-fly gas-phase chemical predictions for complex hydrodynamical systems. Then, we will delve into understanding the impact of vibrational disequilibrium for the formation of dust-forming species. Inquiries: leen.decin@kuleuven.be

(3)   A 2-year postdoctoral position with the prospect of an extension up to 4 years. This position will lead to new constraints on the stellar structure and evolution of massive single, binary or multiple stars. This will be achieved by using ongoing and future large observational campaigns in which KU Leuven is involved, including the BLOeM ESO large program, the Gaia, TESS, UVEX and CubeSPEC space missions. In addition to this, various observing campaigns with the Mercator telescope and ESO facilities are ongoing. With these observations we obtain various samples of massive stars, binary products, stripped stars and binaries with compact objects. The long-term goal is to enable the calibration of uncertain physics affecting populations synthesis computations of gravitational wave progenitors. Inquiries: hugues.sana@kuleuven.be

(4)  A 2 + 2-year PhD position. Within this position we will build numerical 3D magnetohydrodynamic models for stellar atmospheres in a binary system. The student will work in close collaboration with the postdoc who implements the numerical model and extend their work to binary systems. The aim is to quantify binary mass exchanges in advanced atmospheric models of star-star and star-planet systems. Previous student projects or internships with supercomputing and programming for MHD are a plus. In-depth knowledge of plasma physics is essential. Inquiries: tom.vandoorsselaere@kuleuven.be

(5)   A 2 + 2-year PhD position. The aim of this position is to provide the temporal evolution of the multiplicity properties as massive stars age and interact. The student will utilise Mercator, VLT, Gaia and TESS observations to map the evolution of supernova progenitors. Interpretation of these data will provide a first statistically meaningful homogeneous sample of quiescent neutron star and black hole single-degenerate binaries in the Milky Way. Our improved statistics will serve as benchmark for the theoretical computations. Inquiries: hugues.sana@kuleuven.be

(6)   A 2-year software postdoctoral position with the prospect of an extension up to 4 years. This IT-oriented position will optimise and further develop scientific software codes describing the evolution of stellar rotation, magnetism, oscillations, outflows, and tides in close binaries and planetary systems in 3 spatial dimensions. In addition, they will be responsible for interfacing the various software codes where needed and developing machine learning (ML) algorithms to interpret data and reduce computation time. The candidate will streamline the installation of required software. In addition to this they will lead and manage high-performance computing (HPC) time applications to European supercomputers to facilitate, operate, document, and help interpret SOUL simulations. Experience in software development, ML, and HPC is an asset, particularly in C++ and FORTRAN. Inquiries: conny.aerts@kuleuven.be

The Host Institutes

The Institute of Astronomy (IoA) and Centre of mathematical Plasma Astrophysics (CmPA)  of KU Leuven in Belgium are young and vibrant research groups approximately 150 scientists, engineers, and administrative staff.

For more information: see http://fys.kuleuven.be/ster/ (IoA) and https://wis.kuleuven.be/CmPA (CmPA)

Inquiries and applications

The preferred starting date for all positions is between August 1st and October 1st 2024.

Application Deadline: March 25th 2024
Selection Deadline: May 1st 2024

For more information and to apply please visit the KU Leuven vacancies page:

For the software and postdoc positions: https://www.kuleuven.be/personeel/jobsite/jobs/60305236?lang=en
For PhD positions: https://www.kuleuven.be/personeel/jobsite/jobs/60305230?lang=en