Keele Astrophysics Group

Welcome to the Keele Astrophysics Group which is part of the EPSAM Research Institute and the School of Physical and Geographical Sciences of the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

The Keele Astrophysics group currently consists of 11 academic staff members, with research interests including star formation and stellar clusters, late stellar evolution, massive stars and their impact on the early universe, the interstellar medium, binary stars, interacting binary stars, and the detection of extra-solar planets.

Research Associate in Theoretical Stellar Astrophysics

Keele University wishes to appoint a Research Associate for a duration of 2 years starting 1 January 2015, in order to conduct research on theoretical stellar astrophysics. Starting salary: Grade 7 £31,342.

You will work in the group led by Dr Raphael Hirschi within the Astrophysics Group at Keele University as part of an ERC-funded project entitled "Stellar HYdrodynamics, Nucleosynthesis and Evolution" (SHYNE).

You will lead the explosive nucleosynthesis component of this project, which includes grids of models as well as impact studies of key nuclear reactions. You will also contribute to the other components of the project and be encouraged to develop your own research program and your leadership skills.

You should have or be expecting to obtain a PhD in astrophysics or a related area within a year of appointment and should have a demonstrated aptitude for research. Experience in theoretical stellar astrophysics is essential and experience with parallel computer programming is highly desirable.

For further enquiries please contact Dr Raphael Hirschi at

For full post details and to apply, please visit:

Closing date for applications: 1st October 2014. Shortlisting will take place on 8th October 2014. Interviews may be conducted remotely if needed (via skype or similar technology). Post reference: RE14/10.

Keele astronomers help find dust in supernova ejecta

Using the Atacama Large subMillimeter Array on the Chilean Altiplano, an international team of astronomers including Masa Lakicevic and Jacco van Loon from Keele have finally confirmed that a "nearby" supernova which had been seen to explode in 1987 has produced copious amounts of dust. This may have important implications for anything in the Universe that is made up of solid stuff, including Earth and life on it.

For more details see


Keele astronomers have pushed the total number of extra-solar planets known through the efforts of worldwide astronomers to over 1,000, by announcing 12 new planets from the WASP (Wide Angle Search for Planets) survey.

Keele operates the WASP-South survey cameras, scanning the night skies and watching for small dips in the light of a star when a planet passes in front of ("transits") the star. The new announcements include WASP-100 and WASP-101, the hundredth and hundredth-and-first planets found by the WASP team.

Among its 100 planets, WASP has found the largest known planet, the shortest-period hot Jupiter, the first planet found in a retrograde orbit, and planets spiralling into destruction on their host star.

Professor Coel Hellier, who leads the WASP-South teams, said: "The WASP planets will be a mainstay of exoplanets research for decades. Astronomers worldwide are studying our planets."

Artist's impression of an exoplanet above by courtesy of ESO/L. Calçada (

Keele Astronomers find Solid Buckyballs in Space

Oranges in a crate

Using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, a team of astronomers led by Nye Evans and including Jacco van Loon of the Keele Astrophysics Group has detected solid buckminsterfullerne (C60) in space for the first time. The buckminsterfullerne molecules are spherical, like soccer balls, and in solid form they stack like "oranges in a crate", as shown in the illustration. The "buckyballs" are found in the environment of a star called XX Ophiuchi, which is about 6500 light years from Earth.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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