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1 Software Postdoctoral and 3 Postdoctoral positions for the SOUL Project at KU Leuven

Catholic University of Leuven
Leuven, Belgium
Posting live until
27 Mar 2024

We invite motivated candidates to apply for PhD and postdoctoral positions as part of the new Centre of Excellence 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 observatorieson ground and in space, as well as high-performance computing centres.

The vacancies

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

A 2-year postdoctoral position with the prospect of an extension up to 4 years. This position isaimed 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:

A 2-year postdoctoral position with the prospect of an extension up to 4 years. This position isaimed 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:

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:

A 2-year software postdoctoral position with the prospect of an extension up to 4 years. This IT-oriented position will profile and optimise our existing 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 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:

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 of approximately 150 scientists, engineers, and administrative staff. The institutes are expertise centres in stellar and planetary physics and are active in several international consortia and collaborations, involving telescopes at observatories worldwide and in space. The institutes have a long tradition in instrumental, observational, and theoretical studies of stellar evolution bridging the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Mathematics. Members of IoA and CmPA have access to parallel computing facilities at KU Leuven.

The IoA and CmPA together are responsible for the organisation of the 2-year Master in Astronomy & Astrophysics and Advanced Master of Space Studies of the Faculty of Science.

For more information: see (IoA) and (CmPA).

Inquiries and applications

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

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

General Inquiries About SOUL and profiles:

Attention To: Prof. Conny Aerts, SOUL Methusalem Beneficiary;

Subject: Methusalem Grant SOUL positions;


For questions on the application process: please contact Rose Stanley,

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

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