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The Leiden/ESA Astrophysics Program for Summer Students (LEAPS) 2019

Update: February 14, 2019

The final project list is up! Be sure to press `submit' to finalize your application!

Leiden Observatory and ESA are pleased to welcome applications (beginning in January) for the sixth edition of the LEAPS program. Application are carried out through this application form and the deadline is scheduled for February 28, 2019. If you have any questions about the application process or the program, please . If you want to know more about the projects on offer, please email the project supervisor directly by clicking on their name below.

LEAPS is an opportunity for students with an interest in astronomy and astrophysics to perform a 10-12 week summer research project in collaboration with a research scientist from Leiden Observatory or ESA. The program is open to all students not currently engaged in a Ph.D. program, although most past participants have been senior-undergraduate or masters' students who are enthusiastic about research in astrophysics.

Students will be selected for the program based on their academic achievements and research potential, and will be matched to staff projects based on what they indicate their scientific interests to be. Research at Leiden Observatory and ESA takes place on a diverse array of topics (see below), and student projects will likely consist of anything from the analysis of data from world-class telescopes, to large computer simulations, to hands-on work in the astrochemistry laboratories.

For the 2019 program, up to two LEAPS studentships will be awarded to students from developing countries and funded by the J. Mayo Greenberg Scholarship Prize. In memory of the distringuished pioneering Leiden astrophysicst, Professor J. Mayo Greenberg.

Projects will begin the first Monday of June 2019 and end by mid-August 2019.

Leiden Observatory

Leiden Observatory (located in the Huygens and Oort buildings) is a world-class institute for research in astronomy and astrophysics based in the Netherlands, approximately 35km from Amsterdam. The atmosphere at the observatory is dynamic, with approximately 100 faculty/research scientists and 70 graduate students engaged in astrophysical research on a wide range of topics. Major fields of interest include extrasolar planets, star formation, cosmology, galaxy formation, instrumentation, and astrochemistry. Multiple research projects will likely be available within these fields.


European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC/ESA)

ESTEC is the main technical centre for the European Space Agency (ESA), responsible for spacecraft integration. ESA develops and manages many types of space missions, from exploration, telecommunications, to earth and space science. The Research and Scientific Support Department at ESTEC consists of approximately 40 staff scientists, with research interests ranging from the geology of planets in our solar system, to plasma physics in the magnetosphere of the Earth, space weather, to observational astronomy with ESA's space missions such as Planck, Herschel, GAIA and EUCLID. Due to tight security requirements for entry to the ESTEC complex, students who work in collaboration with the ESTEC Research Fellows will be based primarily at Leiden Observatory and their advisor will meet with them on a regular basis.

Travel, Housing and Stipend

Students accepted into the LEAPS program will be provided with travel costs to/from Leiden. We will also provide housing accommodations near the observatory, as well as a modest stipend to help with living costs during the internship. Leiden is a small, picturesque university town located between the major cities of Amsterdam and The Hague. Summer is a beautiful time of year to be in Leiden, and we encourage LEAPS students to socialize and use their free time to enjoy the numerous summertime activities available in Holland. English is widely spoken throughout the Netherlands and international students should find it easy to live in the Leiden area. We are planning several field trips for LEAPS students including visits to the ESTEC complex where many ESA satellites are being built, and potentially to the LOFAR radio array, the world's largest low-frequency radio telescope.

How to Apply

The program is open to all international students provided they are not currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program. ESA projects are only available for students from ESA member or affiliate states (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Canada). Students from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia (affilliate members) can also apply for ESA projects. The working language of the observatory is English, and students should be sufficiently proficient in English to perform a research project.

Apply here: web submission form

Deadline for applications: February 28, 2019, 23:59 CET

If you have any questions about the application process or the program, please . If you want to know more about the projects on offer, please email the project supervisor directly by clicking on their name below.

Research Projects, Categories and Supervisors


These are the proposed research projects for LEAPS 2019. Please note that not all projects will go ahead and some may still be added in the near future. Final funding decisions lie with the Faculty sponsors. And please make a note that if you are interested in an ESA project, to check if your state is an ESA member or affiliate state.



Project list (to be updated early 2019):

Extreme matter accretion onto black holes

Supervisor:

Type of project: Observational, black holes, galactic evolution, X-ray data analysis, spectral fitting, (ESA)

More info
In the centre of almost every galaxy there is a supermassive black hole (SMBH) weighing over million suns. The discovery of "fully grown" SMBHs when the Universe was young challenges the theories of black holes growth, requiring long periods of accretion above the Eddington limit (where radiation produced by the accreted matter would prevent further accretion). This is a focus of the next generation large missions but cannot be done with the current instrumentation due to the large distances. Ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs) are extraordinary off-nucleus, point sources in nearby galaxies with X-ray luminosities above any known steady stellar process. We recently published in Nature the discovery of blueshifted X-ray absorption lines in high-resolution X-ray spectra of ULXs, revealing the fastest winds ever seen in interacting binary stars as predicted by models of hyper-accreting stellar mass black holes. This has opened up a new research field and we were awarded a huge amount of new observations between 2017 and 2019 to understand the wind driving mechanisms. This project will focus on some of these new observations in order to understand how accretion works at the most extreme rates.

Outbursts in accreting neutron stars as a probe of extreme magnetic field

Supervisor:

Type of project: Theoretical, accretion, accretion discs, neutron stars, programming, X-rays

More info
We will investigate the accretion process in close binary systems hosting the strongest magnets existing in the Universe - neutrons stars (NSs). NSs are unique laboratories to study physics under extreme conditions of high temperature, density and strong magnetic field, which are not achievable in terrestrial laboratories. Many accreting NSs in binaries are transients and show outbursts when the accretion process from a companion star becomes extremely intensive and the brightness of a system in X-rays increases by a few orders of magnitude within a few weeks. Recent years have brought many high-quality data from X-ray observatories. In particular, it has been discovered that the outburst in accreting magnetized NSs show very different behavior in their end. The difference might be explained by instabilities developing in accretion flow and the flow interaction with a strong magnetic field of a NS. If it is indeed a case we can get a novel independent method to measure NS magnetic field strength, which has key importance to studies of NSs. In order to test the proposed hypothesis, we will construct a numerical model of the accretion process. Using the model we will try to reproduce topology of the outbursts and compare our theoretical results with the observational data. With this project, we will make a step forward in our understanding of plasma interaction with a strong magnetic field and develop a new method of NS diagnostics. During the project you will see how theoretical astrophysics interacts with the observational astrophysics, you will learn the basics of NS physics, numerical analysis, and analytical thinking by applying them to a real problem. The project requires the basic knowledge in partial differential equations, numerical analysis, and coding with C/C++ or/and Fortran.

Characterizing astrophysical COMs in a laboratory setting

Supervisor:

Type of project: Laboratory, GREENBERG FOUNDATION, astrophysical complex organics (COMs)

More info
In the nearby future the JWST will be launched and its unique characteristics allow to study interstellar ices with high spatial resolution. As such, it will be possible for a first time to start a number of dedicated surveys for complex organic molecules (COMs) embedded in icy dust grains. Research in the Sackler Laboratory for Astrophysics has shown that such COMs are formed in solid state reactions, but so far, detections of COMs are limited to the gas phase. In order to facilitate the JWST surveys, a series of systematic IR spectroscopic experiments is planned to investigate a number of astrophysically relevant COMs in chemically related ice matrices. The task for this specific Leaps project is to characterize the spectral behavior of one specific COM - to be decided - and to include the results in the Leiden Database for Ice in support of upcoming JWST work.
This research project requires an experimental background. Experience with molecular spectroscopy is prefered.
NOTE: the funding for this project has been offered in association with the Greenberg foundation. Candidates from developing countries will be given preference.

Photochemistry in the atmospheres of Hot Jupiters

Supervisor:

Type of project: Theoretical; chemical modeling, synthetic spectra, exoplanetary atmospheres

More info
The chemical content of (exo)planetary atmospheres is an active area of research, representing a main focus of the next generation of observatories like the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Cataloguing the total elemental abundances of common species like carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen is important for understanding the physical processes that are occuring in planetary atmospheres, as well as the formation history of planets. These studies are complicated by internal atmospheric transport and chemistry that hide a substantial fraction of some elements.
The purpose of this project is to investigate the link between observable heavy metal oxides (TiO, VO) and the bulk elemental abundances in the atmospheres of moderately hot (Teff > 2000K) exoplanets. The applicant will use the photochemical code VULCAN to compute the chemical kinetics of Ti and V oxidation to predict the observability of these heavy metal oxides as a function of the carbon-to-oxygen ratio and nitrogen-to-oxygen ratio. This project is almost exclusively numerical and the applicant should be familiar with the programing language Python.

Using machine learning to quantify structure in star clusters

Supervisor:

Type of project: Statistical, star clusters, n-body, Gaia, (ESA)

More info
Thanks to recent missions, such as Gaia, we have a detailed understanding of the three-dimensional spatial distribution of stars in the Milky Way. However, observations only provide a brief snapshot in time. They alone cannot address the formation and evolution of stars and star clusters over astronomical timescales. In order to understand the star formation fully -- from the birth of stars in dense clusters to present-day loose associations -- observations must be compared with numerical simulations. Statistical tools are required to do this in a quantitative and meaningful way. In this project, we will apply machine-learning techniques to star cluster data. These methods have already been applied to two-dimensional spatial distributions; we will use them to connect n-body simulation data to three-dimensional Gaia observations. The candidate should be familiar with Python or have experience with other scientific programming languages.

Searching for the young and small galaxies behind "El Gordo"

Supervisor:

Type of project: Observational, high redshift Universe, galaxy evolution / morphology, merging clusters, strong gravitional lensing

More info
Galaxies are not randomly distributed in the Universe. Due to a gravitational pull they tend to group themselves and form clusters of galaxies. These clusters are the most massive objects in the Universe and not only allow us to understand the link between dark and baryonic matter but also how galaxies evolve within. More recently, galaxy clusters have also been used as powerful gravitational telescopes to look further back in time. Their gravitational field magnifies and distorts the light of background galaxies, allowing us to find and constrain the prevalence of low luminosity galaxies which would otherwise remain unseen. "El Gordo" is the most massive, hottest, and luminous X-ray cluster at high redshift. It hosts an excess of blue, bright, and massive early-type galaxies which has been attributed to its merging nature. The mass and state of "El Gordo" promotes an unique environment to study galaxy evolution. By decomposing the light of the galaxies in "El Gordo" we can have the opportunity to try to answer different questions: how can this cluster state impact galaxy morphology at high redshift? How faint can we go to find galaxies behind the cluster and what are the implications for galaxy formation models?

Exploring the clearness/cloudiness of the atmosphere of gas giant exoplanets

Supervisor:

Type of project: Data analysis, exoplanets, transits, spectroscopy, programming, (ESA)

More info
This project aims at constraining the atmospheric properties and haziness/cloudiness of a sample of 6 gas giant exoplanets. These planets have been observed in spectroscopy with the Nordic Optical Telescope (Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos, La Palma, Spain). During the project, the data will be analysed to extract the exoplanet transmission spectra. They will be compared to theoretical spectra obtained from existing tools in order to identify the best fitting models. The main goal is to assess the presence of Rayleigh scattering at blue wavelengths and constrain the clearness or cloudiness of these atmospheres. If time permits, multicolour photometric data obtained on these planets will also be analysed and combined to the spectroscopic data. As a result of this work, planets with a confirmed clear atmosphere will be followed up with larger facilities for a more detailed characterisation. Knowledge of Python/PyRAF would be a plus.

Simulating measurements of Europa plumes by JUICE

Supervisor:

Type of project: Simulations, planetary science, programming, particle tracing, Europa, (ESA)

More info
Hubble space telescope observations indicate that water vapour is erupting from the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. The resulting eruption plumes could provide a window into Europa’s (potentially habitable) subsurface ocean. The upcoming ESA JUpiter ICy moon Explorer (JUICE) is equipped with several particle detector instruments. It has been shown, for these instruments, that it is in principle feasible to directly detect neutral and ionized plume particles. Furthermore, it is possible to investigate the interaction of charged particles from Jupiter's magnetosphere with the plume particles, which offers an additional indirect way to probe the plume properties.
The goal of this project is to invertigate several potential realistic measurement scenarios using an existing software. The software package simulates the trajectories of neutral and charged particles in the vicinity of Europa and their detection by the JUICE instruments. Possible scenarios inculde but are not restricted to: 1) investigating the effect of various surface positions and plume geometries on the measurements; 2) the detection of minor plume constituents beside H2O; 3) detection of plume deposits sputtered on the surface.
The existing simulation code is written Python. The candidate will not only be required to run various simultions using the existing code but also to modify the code by implementing new modules. Therefore, experience with Python is an essential prerequisite for this project.

Chemistry of MHD disk-winds launched from planet-forming regions

Supervisor:

Type of project: Astrochemical modelling, observations, young stars, jets, outflows, infrared molecular lines, protoplanetary disks

More info
Unraveling the chain of processes that lead to the birth of planetary systems is one of the Holy Grails of astronomy. It is now well established that stars form by gravitational collapse of a rotating dense core, and that material with excess angular momentum forms a circumstellar disk that feeds the young star by accretion and eventually gives birth to planets. However, several critical aspects of this scenario are still missing. Magnetic outflows launched from the disk surface (so-called “MHD disk-winds”) are recently invoked to explain disk accretion onto the forming star, and to prevent inward planet migration. High angular (∼ 0.15”) and spectral resolution observations in the near-IR toward young stars have recently revealed small scale molecular winds (. 10 au). The presence of molecules (CO, OH, H2O) exposed to a harsh UV radiation field produced by accretion onto the young star is a unique opportunity to constrain the launching mechanism of these winds and understand their feedback on the disk.
The purpose of this LEAPS project is to test MHD disk-winds launched from planet-forming zones (. few astronomical units) using near-infrared molecular lines. The applicant will analyse the results of the unique thermo-chemical code MAMOJ that solves the out of equilibrium chemistry and the thermal structure of winds. Synthetic predictions of CO ro-vibrational lines will then be produced and a first comparison to VLT-CRIRES data will be done.
Good knowledge of molecular physics, spectroscopy, chemistry and/or thermodynamics will be appreciated. The applicant should be familiar with Fortran and/or Python

Evaluating Massive Science Communication Programmes and understanding grassroot participation

Supervisor:

Type of project: Science Communication, massive science communication programmes, grassroots initiatives, communities of practices

More info
In 2019, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is celebrating its 100th anniversary (IAU100, see www.iau-100.org). To commemorate this milestone, the IAU is organising a year-long celebration to increase awareness of a century of astronomical discoveries as well as to support and improve the use of astronomy as a tool for education, development and diplomacy under the central theme "Under One Sky". During this project, the student will explore the effectiveness of Massive Science Communication Programmes to reach its target audiences and the motivations behind the organization of grassroots activities in the framework of these type of initiatives. Learning from previous similar initiatives in the context of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 and the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015, the student will: 1) Conduct a study of the feedback received from activities celebrated worldwide in the framework of the IAU100 Celebrations. The findings of this research will serve as basis for evaluation purposes of the IAU100 Celebrations; 2) Study the effectiveness of the community of practice that directly coordinates the worldwide implementation of the IAU100 Celebrations in over 100 countries

How large was the Milky Way 13 billion years ago?

Supervisor:

Type of project: Observational, galaxy formation and evolution, high-redshift galaxies, galaxy sizes, massive galaxies

More info
In the concordance picture, the formation of galaxies is a composite process involving in-situ star formation and merging. Because the shape of galaxies directly reflects the different contributions of each process across cosmic time, size measurements at different epochs allow us to reconstruct their assembly history. A number of studies have shown that galaxies likely progenitors of the Milky Way observed when the Universe was about 3 Gyr old (i.e., at redshift z~2) had similar masses but ~2-3 times smaller sizes than today, suggesting minor mergers may have played an important role in their evolution. Favored by better instrumental resolution, all current size measurements for higher redshift Milky Way progenitors (z>5) have been performed in the rest-frame UV, which however probes bursty episodes of star formation localized to star clusters where the massive stars live. Our accurate instrumental characterization now enables access to the rest-frame optical, corresponding to the light emitted by lower-mass, evolved stars, more evenly distributed across each galaxy. In this project, you will have the opportunity to measure for the first time, and in advance of JWST, sizes at rest-frame optical wavelengths for a sample of ultrabright galaxies identified when the Universe was only about 650 Myr old, likely primordial Milky Way progenitors.

Massive galaxies in the EAGLE simulation: investigating the relation between dark matter halo mass and observable properties

Supervisor:

Type of project: Computational, massive galaxies, simulations, galactic properties

More info
The assembly history of a galaxy is driven by its dark matter halo: the halo determines the accretion rate and the temperature of the infalling gas that fuels star formation, as well as the rate of mergers with other galaxies. As a result, the stellar mass of a galaxy correlates with the mass of its dark matter halo. This stellar-to-halo mass relation, however, is observed to have a large scatter, especially at the high mass end: galaxies of the same stellar mass can be found at the centers of halos with masses that differ by orders of magnitude. Is this scatter irreducible, or does the dark matter halo determine other properties of its central galaxy in addition to its mass? What combination of observable quantities is the best predictor of halo mass? The goal of this project is to answer this question by studying massive galaxies in the EAGLE hydrodynamical cosmological simulation. The student will extract galaxy observables from EAGLE, such as stellar mass, color, surface brightness profile, morphology, velocity dispersion, and measure correlations between these quantities and halo mass at fixed stellar mass. If correlations are found, the student will investigate their physical origin by studying the assembly history of the simulated galaxies.

Impact of charge transfer inefficiency in Euclid CCDs on cosmic shear measurements

Supervisor:

Type of project: Observational & Instrumentation, weak gravitational lensing, CCD, radiation damage, image analysis, programming and visualization

More info
Euclid (https://www.euclid-ec.org) is an ESA medium class astronomy and astrophysics space mission. Its launch is planned for 2022. The Euclid mission aims at understanding why the expansion of the Universe is accelerating and what is the nature of the source responsible for this acceleration which physicists refer to as dark energy. The cosmological probe to observe imprints of dark energy and gravity is the weak gravitational lensing of about 1 billion galaxies to be observed by Euclid VIS Imager, which comprises a focal pane of 36 CCDs. The high optical resolution and large data sample will lead to unprecedented precision in the derived cosmological parameters, but only if instrumental errors can be known and corrected for with very high accuracy. During its 6 year mission, Euclid will be subject to cosmic radiation. Radiation damage in the CCDs causes Charge Transfer Inefficiency (CTI), which ultimately leads to a systematic distortion of the images. Models of CTI are used to correct these images, but residual errors will remain. The student will work with simulated or experimental data and analyze them w.r.t. the sensitivity of galaxy shape measurements to errors in CTI parameters, or to better constrain those parameters using fits to calibration data. The analysis requires basic knowledge of Python.

LOFAR eyes on black holes and star formation

Supervisor:

Type of project: Observational, data analysis, black holes, star formation, radio astronomy, multiwavelength, spectral fitting

More info
The growth and evolution of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) and their host galaxies are intricately entwined, and radio observations provide insight into both these processes. When the SMBHs at the centers of almost all galaxies grow through accreting material, they can form radio-emitting relativistic jets of plasma extending over scales much larger than the host galaxies. These powerful central engines, in particular in driving these radio jets, can influence the formation of stars in their host galaxies. Star formation activity in galaxies also gives rise to radio emission, traced by particle acceleration from supernovae. LOFAR is a new low frequency radio telescope that is already revealing hundreds of thousands of black holes and star forming galaxies in its surveys. In this project we will combine the latest LOFAR radio observations with multiwavelength data, including spectroscopic and broadband photometric data. Using the catalogued data we will explored how best to classify the radio emission as star formation or black hole activity and further understand how we can characterise these processes in radio sources. The candidate should be familiar with Python or have experience with other scientific programming languages.

Using protoplanetary disk substructure to gauge the strength of turbulence

Supervisor:

Type of project: Theoretical, protoplanetary disks, turbulence, numerical simulations

More info
The last years have witnessed a revolution in the field of planet formation. Thanks to the new ALMA telescope we can now image at high angular resolution (~0.05") the planet birthplaces, discs of gas and dust around young stars called proto-planetary discs. These discs show a variety of substructures like gaps, rings and spirals; the most intriguing possibility is that these structures are formed by the youngest exoplanets ever found. Besides being signpost of planets, these structures also offer us a unique chance to take a look into the disc physical conditions. In particular, the radial and vertical extent of these structures is linked to the amount of turbulence in the disc. Turbulence is the fundamental reason why the material in the disc ultimately accretes onto the star and onto the forming planets, determining their mass and their chemical composition, but our understanding of turbulent processes is extremely limited. The purpose of this LEAPS project is to provide constraints on the amount of turbulence. The applicant will use the radiative transfer code RADMC-3D to generate synthetic images of discs for different amounts of turbulence and in this way provide constraints in comparison with exquisite ALMA data. The project requires a general background in physics, preferentially with a working knowledge of radiative transfer; a knowledge of Python or another scientific programming language would be an additional asset.


Please note that the ESA projects (marked by ESA in their 'Type of project' description) are only available for students from ESA member or affiliate states (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Canada). Students from Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia and Slovenia (affilliate members) can also apply for ESA projects.

Projects not marked with ESA are held at Leiden University, and are open to any nationality.

Past LEAPS Successes


LEAPS 2015 was a great success! Twenty-two students from four continents spent their summer in Leiden doing astrophysics research.

  • Joshua Borrow (with supervisor Pedro Russo) published a paper on astro-ph entitled "A Blueprint for Public Engagement Appraisal: Supporting Research Careers."
  • Lukasz Tychoniec (supervised by John Tobin) presented his research at the Polish Astronomical Society Summit, and his research already contributed to one published paper and he is preparing a paper on the full results.
  • Tessa Wilkinson (supervised by Anna-Lea Lesage) presented her research at the 2016 American Astronomical Society meeting.
  • Jeremy Dietrich (supervised by Christian Ginksi) submitted a paper to MNRAS "Archival VLT/NaCo multiplicity investigation of exoplanet host stars".
  • Maria Vincenzi (supervised by Carlo Manara) presented a poster at the workshop: "The accretion/outflow connection in YSOs" at ESTEC in October and a paper is in preparation.
  • Hope Boyce (supervised by Nora Lutzgendorf) presented a poster at the Canadian Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics and a paper is in preparation.

The 2013, and 2014 groups of LEAPS students also performed very well and the first scientific publications are out!

  • Ryosuke Goto and his advisor Sean McGee published a paper on galaxy formation in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society on his LEAPS project; "The stellar mass function and efficiency of galaxy formation with a varying initial mass function". See here.
  • Steffi Yen and her advisor, Adam Muzzin, presented a poster at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) winter meeting in Washington DC, "Searching for the Most Distant Galaxy Clusters". See here.
  • Fiona Thiessen and her advisor Sebastien Besse submitted a paper on Lunar surface composition and lava flows (figure below).
  • Conny Weber worked with Agnes Kospal on infrared variability of young stars in Chamaeleon which featured on a poster at the "The Universe Explored by Herschel" conference in Noordwijk (conference website). See the poster here.
  • Hannah Harris, a 2014 LEAPS student, and her advisor Pedro Russo published a paper in the Space Policy Journal, "The Influence of Social Movements on Space Astronomy Policy." See here.
  • Saul Kohn (now a PhD student at UPenn) and his advisor David Sobral published a paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society on his LEAPS project: "The most luminous Halpha emitters at z~0.8-2.23 from HiZELS". See here (link here).
  • LEAPS student Michael Hammer (from Cornell University) and his adviser Lucie Jilkova studied close stellar flybys that lead some stars to lose parts of their circumstellar discs. Using simulations in the AMUSE framework (www.amusecode.org), they showed that if the two stars approach each other close enough, part of the disc lost from one star can be transferred to the other one. These close encounters can happen shortly after stars form when many stars are clustered together. They further showed that even our Solar System might have experienced such an interaction and stolen some material, which is now orbiting in its outer parts, from another star. Michael presented a poster on the results of his LEAPS project on the 225th AAS meeting. The project eventually resulted to publication in an international refereed journal, which led to several press releases, for example: New Scientist, Scientific American, Universe Today.

Figure of the submitted paper by Fiona Thiessen, students of the LEAPS 2013 class. (a) M3 color composite image of the Imbrium basin (red: IBD1000, green: IBD2000, blue: R750 nm). Numbers indicate the basalt units mapped in this work. Large and spectrally bright craters are mapped separately in grey and were excluded from the basalt units. The surrounding highlands and kipuckas inside the Imbrium basin are also shown in grey. Dark strips correspond to portion of the lunar surface not observed with M3 using OP1B. (b) Eratosthenian basalt flows from Schaber [1973] with flow phases I-III. leaps2015 @ ESTEC

ESTEC group picture (joint tour with ASTRON summer school).

leaps2015 @ LOFAR

The rain could chase us away from LOFAR! (not quite drenched yet in this picture).

The 2013 LEAPS students (and some supervisors) on their visit to the Westerbork Radio telescope in Dwingeloo, the Netherlands.