Final stages of stellar evolution
We investigate the evolution of stars of intermediate mass (less than 8 times the solar mass) which are close to the end of their lives. In this phase the star expels a lot of material which is returned to the InterStellar Medium. The cool material (below a few hundred Kelvin) containing gas and dust can be best studied in the infrared or (sub-) mm wavelengths. For this research we make use of ground-based and space-borne telescopes. A recent successful satellite mission to which we contributed was the ESA Herschel Space Observatory.
Herschel and Reosette Nebula (Credit: NASA)
AGB populations in the central regions of our Galaxy and nearby Galaxies
Stars of a few solar masses become cool giants (less than 3000 Kelvin) and very bright (few thousand times the solar luminosity). This makes them useful tracers for regions at large distances like the galactic Bulge or other galaxies to study the stellar population and from this the history of star formation.
"The enigmatic nature of the circumstellar enveloppe and bow shock surrounding Betelgeuse as revealed by Hershel", by L. Decin et al, was published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, December 2012.
The above research topics are performed in collaboration with the Instituut voor Sterrenkunde, KU Leuven, the Institut d'Astronomie et d'Astrophysique, ULB and several other (international) collaborators.