Max Planck Institute for Solar System Postdoctoral Research Programs 2017, Göttingen, Germany

Publish Date: Nov 30, 2016

Deadline: Jan 01, 2017

Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen

  • Astronomy & Astrophysics

Job code: Post-doc application SAGE

Type of Job

  • Scientist

Post-doc positions in asteroseismology, stellar modelling, galactic evolution and spectroscopy

Job Offer from November 17, 2016

The "Stellar Ages and Galactic Evolution" (SAGE) independent research group based at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Göttingen, Germany invites applications for multiple postdoc positions in asteroseismology, stellar modelling, galactic evolution, computer science or spectroscopic analyses.

"Stellar Ages and Galactic Evolution" (SAGE) independent research group

"We are a way for the universe to know itself. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star stuff."

-Carl Sagan

Scientific Outline

The Milky Way is a giant spiral galaxy, which has evolved to its current shape over billions of years. Up to now, the formation history of the Milky Way is not fully understood. Several processes are likely to have contributed to its formation, i.e. in-situ star formation, in-fall of stars from satellite galaxies, galaxy mergers, and dynamical processes like the diffusion and radial migration of stars. The dynamical and chemical properties of the stars observable to date still bear the signatures of these different processes.

Age is a fundamental property of stars. It is an essential tool to understand many diverse phenomena in astrophysics, including the evolution of the Galaxy, the stars within, and their planetary systems. Unfortunately, age is a difficult property to determine as there is no observable that is sensitive to age and age only. Current techniques yield an uncertainty no better than 30-40%.

In the SAGE research group we study oscillating main-sequence stars, subgiants and red giants with the aim to infer their internal structures and their ages to unprecedented accuracy and to use these stellar ages, together with stellar distances, velocities and chemical compositions to determine the structure of the Milky Way.

For this research we make use of (among others) high-precision photometric data from the CoRoT and Kepler space missions, spectroscopic data from APOGEE and Gaia-ESO surveys and state-of-the-art stellar models computed using the Mesa, Garstec and Monash stellar evolution codes.


It was once said that "at first sight it would seem that the deep interior of the sun and stars is less accessible to scientific investigation than any other region of the universe" (Sir Arthur Eddington, 1926). Now, through modern mathematical techniques and high quality data, it has become possible to probe and study the internal stellar structure directly through global stellar oscillations: a method known as asteroseismology.

Asteroseismology uses similar techniques to seismology carried out on Earth to study the structure of stars. The properties of waves are used to trace the internal conditions. Oscillations that impact upon the whole star reveal information that is hidden by the opaque surface. See Figure 1 for an artist's impression of oscillations in a star. Asteroseismology offers the opportunity to obtain highly sensitive observables which can be compared to our stellar models and constrain stellar ages. By improving upon the uncertainty in the stellar ages there are several questions we can help answer:

  • How long do evolutionary phases last for stars with different initial masses and compositions?
  • What is the chemical evolution of our Galaxy?
  • Do the properties of stars in different directions of the galaxy change?
  • What can we learn from the study of other stars about the behaviour of the Sun at different epochs in the past and in the future? Is the Sun a normal star or is the Sun special?
  • How old are planets orbiting other stars and how do planetary systems evolve?
  • How do stellar magnetic activity and rotation change with age?

About Us

The SAGE research group is funded by the European Research Council under the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC grant agreement no 338251 (Stellar Ages) and by the Max Planck Society through an independent Max Planck research group.

The SAGE research group is an international node of the Stellar Astrophysics Centre

Dr. Saskia Hekker is a fellow of the Elisabeth-Schiemann-Kolleg

The Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS)

The name itself actually precisely describes its field of research: the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research. The scientists in Göttingen focus on Earth's cosmic neighbourhood – the Sun, the planets and their moons, as well as a variety of small bodies. They look into the heart of the star that keeps us alive, investigate its gaseous envelope, the solar magnetic field and the high-energy particles which our Sun ejects into space. The surfaces of the planets and their different “spheres” – atmospheres, ionospheres and magnetospheres – their rings and satellites, as well as comets and planetoids are further subjects for physical models and numerical simulations. And since the objects are not that far away, astronomically speaking, the Max Planck researchers love to take a look around for themselves – not in person, but by using international space probes and landers, for which they develop and build instruments and detectors.

Our research

The research in the SAGE research group is aimed to further understand the properties and internal structures of lower main-sequence, subgiant and red-giant stars and to use this information in galactic evolution studies. The SAGE group is a vibrant and young group consisting of experts in asteroseismology, stellar evolution, galactic evolution and computer science. The group now seeks to improve their strength in any of these directions and to add an expert in spectroscopy. For further information and inquiries about the group please contact Saskia Hekker .

Your profile

We seek motivated candidates with a PhD in astronomy and knowledge, skills and interest in asteroseismology, stellar modelling, galactic evolution, computer science and/or spectroscopic analyses. Applicants should have published research results in peer-reviewed high-quality journals, demonstrated creativity, independence, high motivation, good communication skills, and the ability to work independently as well as with other members of our research group.

Our offer

Payment and benefits are according to German TVÖD. The lengths and starting dates of the positions are flexible.Your application

Your application

Please send your application including

  • a cover letter summarizing your qualifications
  • a CV with a full publication list,
  • a research statement, and
  • names and contacts of two to three references.

The application should be submitted electronically as one file to Saskia Hekker with "Postdoc application SAGE" in the subject line. Applications received by January 1, 2017 will receive full consideration. Review of the applications will continue until suitable candidates are found.

The Max Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce. Applications from disabled persons are explicitly encouraged and will be favoured in the case of equally qualified applicants. Furthermore, the Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply.

Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3
37077 Goettingen

To APPLY click "Further official information" below and fill the application form.

This opportunity has expired. It was originally published here:

Similar Opportunities




Computer Sciences

Study Levels



Opportunity Types


Eligible Countries


Host Countries