The research performed at the institute is situated in the domain of stellar astrophysics and stellar evolution in a very broad context. Specific research themes of the institute include asteroseismology, stellar evolution and exoplanets.
Fuelled by technological developments, the field of astronomy is currently gaining importance worldwide. New generations of instruments, situated on the earth's surface and in space, enable astronomers to study the origin, structure, and evolution of planets, stars, star systems, and the universe. Over the coming decades, astronomy will undoubtedly play a prominent role in international basic research. The Master of Astronomy and Astrophysics programme offers a wide range of courses on the subfields of astronomy and on its research methodology. Special attention will be devoted to the analysis and astrophysical interpretation of data, as well as to technological aspects of international astronomical research.
The Master of Space Studies originated from a societal demand of skilled professionals in the space sector. It is an advanced programme for students having already obtained a Master’s degree in a field with links to the space sector. In the first semester all students coming from different backgrounds will obtain a broad overview of space related issues ranging from space law, policy and management to space sciences and technology, giving the programme not only a multi-disciplinary but also an inter-disciplinary character. After this mandatory programme, all students choose their own specialization area, thus strengthening both their deeper knowledge of main space related topics and their specialized knowledge and skills in one space related discipline. Students who complete this programme successfully will be in a position to develop a career in the space sector or space research.
Quite often, research results obtained by researchers of our institute are the subject of national and international press releases, either through ESO or ESA, through Astronomy Picture of the Day, or through national TV broadcasts and/or magazines and newspapers.
Realising the special appeal of astronomy as a discipline towards a large audience, the institute takes up several responsibilities in the field of the popularisation of science. In the field of astronomy, this is done in the form of public lectures, intensive contacts with amateur organisations, and encouraging amateur astronomers to participate in the scientific projects of the institute. On a larger scale, the institute takes part in the activities of Leuven University in the framework of the biennial Week of Science of the Flemish Community, where secondary school students visit the universities to have a first contact with research and education at university level, as well as in the yearly fare called the Flemish Space Days.