Job – KULeuven – 4-year PhD position – Fundamental Atomic Data deduced from Stellar Spectroscopy


The Instituut voor Sterrenkunde of Leuven University has a 4-year PhD position; Fundamental Atomic Data deduced from Stellar Spectroscopy.
The Institute of Astronomy (IoA) of KU Leuven is a young and active research group of some 50 scientists, engineers and administrative staff ( The institute is involved in several international networks and research projects that rely on data gathered with telescopes at international observatories and with space missions. The institute is also responsible for the organization of the Master in Astronomy & Astrophysics of the Faculty of Science at Leuven University.
With this vacancy, we are looking for a motivated PhD student to join the IvS to pursue a research program aiming at a. produce a reference catalog of high-resolution stellar spectroscopy from a large amount of data (existing in house). b model these spectra and compare them with the observations in order to critically assess the quality of existing databases of fundamental atomic parameters.
This research program will be conducted in collaboration between the KU Leuven and the Royal Observatory of Belgium. The student will have the opportunity to share his/her time between the two institutions and to collaborate with specialists of very different observational as well as theoretical backgrounds.


Accurate atomicline transition data are fundamental input parameters in astrophysics. They are central for the development of complex models that try to describe stars, their internal structures, atmospheres and evolution in relation to the stellar environment. Uncertainties and errors in adopted fundamental atomic data may systematically propagate throughout all fields of astrophysics, from star formation to galactic evolution.

It is very difficult to obtain accurate fundamental atomic data of astrophysical interest from laboratory measurements, and important quality assessments of the provided atomic data are scarce. This very much complicates the validation of results that follow from their application.

The current project aims at taking a first, although crucial, step towards removing systematic errors in atomic input data required for quantitative stellar spectroscopy. To reach this goal, we will compare very high-quality observed stellar spectra with state-of-the-art theoretical spectra. Although the observations are still ongoing, a very large collection of high-resolution spectroscopic data already exists.

The first goal of the project is to produce a uniform catalog of very high quality spectra and spectral templates from these data. This catalog will be made available to the entire astronomical community. We expect it to be used for various purposes by the astronomical community, offering the student many opportunities for collaborations.

In a second step, the main goal of the thesis will be addressed by comparing the spectra to state-of-the-art spectral modeling in order to retrieve the fundamental atomic parameters. Finally, these measurements will allow a critical assessment of the quality of the information offered by the various atomic repositories.


 The candidate

  • has a Master diploma in Astrophysics, Physics or Mathematics
  • has good knowledge of the English language
  • some coding experience is an asset


The initial contract is for two years and, following standard practice at KU Leuven, shall be prolonged with another two years after positive evaluations.The starting date will be 1 September 2015. The net monthly salary is according to the governmental regulations and depends on the applicant’s work experience but is not less than 1800 Euro (pocket salary). The applicants will be required to receive approval from the Arenberg Doctoral School of the KU Leuven prior to the start of the PhD.


Make sure that you are a member of the Brussels Data Science Community linkedin group before you apply. Join  here. Please note that we also manage other vacancies that are not public, if you want us to bring you in contact with them too, just send your CV to .

Applications must be submitted via the online application tool: URL. Upload a Curriculum Vitae, scores of all finished master courses so far, the names and email addresses of two reference persons, and a one-page motivation letter, all in a single PDF file.
For more information please contact Dr. Katrijn Clémer, tel.: +32 16 32 70 40, mail:
You can apply for this job no later than April 15, 2015 via the
Downloads :pdf


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