Department of Physics and Astronomy

Degree projects in Astronomy and Space Physics

Astrophysics is the study of the behavior, physical properties, and dynamical processes of celestial objects and phenomena. Through its study one hopes to understand the formation and evolution of the universe and all its parts. Research at the department focuses on three main areas: our solar system, stars and their environments (including exoplanets), and galaxies and cosmology. The research aims to answer questions such as:

  • How and where did the atoms and molecules that make up our galaxy, our solar system and our planet form?
  • What do they tell us about the early universe and the Big Bang?
  • How do stars and planets form and evolve?
  • Is our solar system special?
  • How did stars and galaxies early in the universe differ from those today?
  • How did they affect the evolution at later times?

Our division offers a range of possible bachelor- and master projects in astrophysics related to these fields of research. We have assembled a list of researchers able to supervise projects with a short description of their fields of research and interests. Please feel welcome to contact any or all of them to discuss possible projects. 

Eric Stempels, Meteor observations / Space Situational Awareness (SSA)

During a dark night one often spots fast-moving objects. Some of these are caused by meteoroids entering the atmosphere, and others are due to man-made satellites. In order to understand and monitor these phenomena, several camera networks across the globe perform continuous observations of the night sky. One of these networks is the Swedish Allsky Meteor Network, active since 2015 and coordinated from Uppsala.

I offer several projects related to this network, which include studies of meteors, meteor showers and/or satellites. These projects can be adapted to individual interests, and may, among others, include instrument development, calibration, automated image analysis, and orbit determinations.

Eric Stempels
+46 (0)18-471 5994

Paul Barklem, atomic and molecular astrophysics

Atomic and Molecular physics lies at the foundation of much of modern astrophysics, since in most cases the only information we can obtain on celestial objects such as stars, comets, galaxies etc., is from the light they emit by atomic and molecular processes. My research focuses on theoretical modelling of processes of importance for our understanding of stars, the origin and evolution of the elements and molecules, and planet formation.

I offer a number of projects on atomic and molecular structure and processes and/or quantitative stellar spectroscopy and their application to a broad range of astrophysical problems as sketched above. Projects typically combine high-performance computing with high-quality observations from large telescopes (e.g. VLT, Keck, Magellan). 

Paul Barklem
+46 (0)18-471 5981

Ulrike Heiter, stellar spectroscopy

The Milky Way Galaxy offers a vast area for the exploration of stars and their environments. My main scientific interest is in the physical and chemical properties of stars deduced from a combination of observed stellar spectra and stellar atmosphere models. Open star clusters are of particular interest. They provide a natural laboratory for testing models of stellar evolution, and most stars - including the Sun - were born in clusters. The study of planetary host stars is crucial for understanding the nature of extrasolar planets, from the most massive gas giants to Earth-like planets.

I offer supervision for projects related to spectroscopic studies of Milky Way stars (in the disk, in open clusters, and in planetary systems), and development of spectroscopic methods. They may be connected to large-scale international projects like the Gaia space mission or the Virtual Observatory. Examples for projects are given on my homepage, but students are welcome to contribute with their own ideas.

Ulrike Heiter
+46 (0)18-471 5982

Oleg Kochukhov, stellar magnetic fields

Observations of the Sun demonstrate that stellar surfaces are far from being quiet, stable environments. Stars have rapidly evolving magnetic field and spots. They vary on many time scales, from minutes (pulsations) to decades (activity cycles). My research is focused on observing these phenomena and building theoretical models of stellar magnetism, variability, and activity, with important implications for stellar physics, effects on terrestrial climate, formation of planetary systems and the origin of life.

I offer a range of projects in studies of stellar variability, magnetic fields, and star spots. This work is coupled with our ongoing research using state of the art space instruments and largest ground-based optical telescopes.

Oleg Kochukhov
+46 (0)18-471 5993

Andreas Korn, stellar spectroscopy 

My research focuses on low-mass stars like the Sun, in particular the outer layers from which we receive stellar photons. This starlight tells us how hot and heavy such stars are and what they are made of. As low-mass stars live for billions of years, they allow us to study the chemical history of the Milky Way. We may ultimately learn when and where the elements were produced that form the basis for complex life.

I offer various projects in quantitative stellar spectroscopy, often combining advanced modelling with observations from the largest telescopes (VLT, Keck).

Andreas Korn
+46 (0)18-471 5994

Sofia Ramstedt, stellar winds

My research focuses on the final evolutionary stages of solar-like stars, i.e. the red giant phase and the formation of planetary nebulae. Red giant evolution is dominated by an intense stellar wind from the surface. The enriched material from the star is recycled, through the wind into the interstellar medium, and eventually used to build new stars. On smaller scales, it concerns the origin, as well as the future fate, of our own Solar system, and on larger scales, it contributes to our understanding of the chemical evolution of galaxies. 

I offer projects analyzing different types of astronomical observations of these stars. The projects are aimed at understanding the shaping and morphology of the outflows in the transition from red giant to planetary nebulae, or at determining the chemical composition of the material (gas and dust) in the wind. Somewhat depending on the project you will learn about stellar evolution, astrochemistry, radiative transfer, observational techniques, data reduction and image analysis. 

Sofia Ramstedt
+46 (0)18-471 5970

Projects within space and plasma physics 

We investigate what goes on in space using instruments we build ourselves and fly on spacecraft, ground based instruments, computer simulations and plasma theory. Also, we focus on the study of the basic small- and large-scale processes and fundamental physical principles which control the Earth's interaction with its space environment. Of particular interest are linear and non-linear dynamical processes involving space plasma and the associated exchange of energy, linear momentum, and angular momentum between plasma and radiation. 

More information

Here you can find more information about projects within space physics:

If you have questions about degree projects in astronomy, please contact: