High-precision observations assembled by previous space missions made it strikingly clear that large discrepancies occur between stellar theory and observations, due to poor understanding of chemical and dynamical phenomena inside stars. The main reason is that the theoretical descriptions of stellar interiors lack a proper observational calibration. This project will focus on resolving these current discrepancies for hot and massive stars using asteroseismology, the study and interpretation of detected stellar oscillations. Stellar oscillations are detected in thousands of stars nowadays across the entire sky, thanks to new high-precision space photometric time series assembled by the NASA TESS space telescope. Coupling these NASA data to ESA Gaia space astrometry and ground-based spectroscopy assembled at worldwide observatories, offers a new and unique way to calibrate stellar models. The student research project can be observationally, computationally or theoretically oriented, according to the student’s background and interest.
- The project is available in the Fall and Spring semester.
- Number of places available: 1 per semester
- Strong background in physics/mathematics.
- Introduction to astrophysics, especially stellar structure and evolution, and computational modelling is a plus.
The Institute of Astronomy (IoA) of KU Leuven is a young and vibrant research group of some 80 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 the Roque de los Muchachos, La Palma Observatory, Canary Islands. The institute has a long tradition in instrumental, observational, and theoretical studies of stellar evolution.