BinCosmos Project

Massive stars –being up to a million times brighter than ordinary stars like our Sun– play many premier roles in astrophysics. They act as (I) Cosmic Engines: they transformed the pristine and dark Universe left after the Big Bang into the modern Universe in which we live today. We use them as (II) Cosmic Probes to study extreme physics and the most distant galaxies; and we monitor their eruptions and explosions as (III) Cosmic Transients. As a result, various fields in astrophysics heavily rely on the input of, now outdated, stellar models. Recently, large observing campaigns with world-class telescopes showed that the large majority of massive stars will interact with a binary companion.

The BinCosmos project aims to investigate and quantify how binarity affects the many roles that Massive Stars play throughout Cosmic Time as (I) Engines, (II) Probes and (III) Transients.

Despite many pioneering studies in this direction, the exploration of these effects is in its infancy. Progress has been hampered by (i) the challenging nature of the simulations, (ii) the model uncertainties and until recently (iii) the lack of observational constraints.  The BinCosmos project addresses these challenges by combining the strengths of complementary state-of-the art computer simulations and direct confrontation with the wealth of observational data that taken with top class facilities including the Hubble Space Telescope and the European Very Large Telescope in Chilie.

Understanding the Role that Massive Stars played in transforming the Pristine Universe into the one we live today is key to understanding our own Cosmic Origin: a very small step towards the big question: ‘How did we get here?’

The BinCosmos Project is currently in the exploratory/design phase and is seeking funding. 

The core team of the BinComos Project exploration phase is located at the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy but consists of an international network of experts.

Core Team:

  • Selma E. de Mink (Principal Investigator)
  • Manos Zapartas (PhD student since Oct. 2014)
  • Ylva Goetberg (PhD student since Nov. 2014)
  • Mathieu Renzo (PhD student, since Oct 2015)
  • Coenraad Neijssel (MSc student since June 2015)
  • Ruben Boots (MSc, since Oct 2015)
  • Abel Schootemeijer (MSc student Since Sept. 2014, graduated Aug 2015)

International Collaborators

  • Hugues Sana (STScI, Baltimore)
  • Rob Izzard (IoA Cambridge)
  • Fabian Schnreider (Oxford)
  • Aida Wofford (IAP, Paris)
  • John Eldridge (Auckland, NZ)
  • Chris Belczynski (Warsaw, Poland)
  • Pablo Marchant (Argelander Institute, Bonn, Germany)
  • Jose Groh (Geneva)
  • Ilya Mandel (Birmingham)
  • Schuyler van Dijk (IPAC)


The BinComos Project acknowledges funding from the following sources:

  • European Commission (through a Marie Skłodowska-Curie research fellowship),
  • University of Amsterdam (trough a MacGillavry Fellowship and support of one PhD position),
  • Anton Pannekoek Institute (through support of one PhD position)
  • NOVA, Netherlands Research School for Astrophysics (through their support of one PhD student (PI de Koter) and indirect support through “overlap” funding)
  • Lorentz Center Leiden (through their support of a dedicated workshop and travel support)
  • International Astronomy Union (through a travel support grant)
  • Leidsch Kerkhoven Bosccha Fonds (in the form of occasional grants to support travel of core team members)
  • Aspen Center for Physics (through a travel support grant)
  • Kapteyn Studenten fonds (in the form of minor travel support grants for students within the project),