Magnetic activity and the formation of stars and planets

News & Research

Welcome to my homepage! You'll find an overview of the research that I am doing, as well as research from other groups that has grabbed my attention [much more research content coming soon...]. I work with some fun and very active graduate students here at ESO, you can find a little more about them here too - as well a very brief summary of my career to date.

Press Release (Sep 2015)

First hint of a planet around a very young star!

Recent Results

Mapping the surfaces of stars

The power of astrotomography.

Losing Your Magnetic Field

If "you" are a pre-main sequence intermediate mass (1.5-4Msun) star.

Group & Collaborations

PhD Advertisement

Search for habitable worlds with SPIRou: tackling stellar activity

Application deadline 26th April 2019

See PDF file for full details.

Motivation: Since the discovery of the 1st exoplanet using radial velocities in 1995, more than 3500 other planets have been discovered outside of our solar system, unveiling a diverse range of planets but no Earth twin. Yet! In order to detect molecules tracing the presence of life in the atmosphere of Earth analogues – one of the major challenges of 21st century astrophysics – we need to identify the best planet candidates. This is a key objective of the legacy survey using the new SPIRou instrument at the CFHT which is presently starting.
This is a great opportunity for a PhD student, whose work will play a crucial role in characterising the effects of the host star's magnetic activity, enabling the detection of exoplanets. The same data will also be used to model the potential habitability of the detected planets.
Relevance to ESO: The techniques developed with SPIRou will also be adapted for application to the new generation of near-infrared spectrographs developed at ESO such as NIRPS (ESO 3.6-m telescope) and the upgraded CRIRES+ (VLT), thus opening up access to key exoplanetary systems in the southern hemisphere.
Supervisory Team: The PhD project will be supervised by Pascal Petit (IRAP, Toulouse) and Julien Morin (LUPM, Montpellier) on the French side, and Gaitee Hussain (ESO, Garching). The applicant will work within the SPIRou Legacy Survey international collaboration.
How to apply: Applicants should send a CV, cover letter and Master's degree transcript to Julien Morin by 26 April 2019, and arrange for up to 3 reference letters to be sent directly to the same address by the same deadline. Inquiries about the position and the application can be sent to the same address. See PDF file.

PhD students

  • Logithan Kulenthirarajah: (Home Inst: IRAP/OMP, France; last year)
  • Characterising the spectra of M dwarfs in the optical and NIR and studying the effects of strong magnetic fields.

  • Alexis Lavail: (Home Inst: Uppsala, Sweden; last year)
  • Member of the CRIRES upgrade team. Experienced in reducing NIR high resolution spectra, measuring the magnetic field strengths in young (T Tauri) stars over a wide range of masses and comparing large and small scale fields in PMS stars.

  • Lisa Lehmann: (Home Inst: St Andrews, UK; second year)
  • Flux emergence on solar-type stars; understanding large scale magnetic fields on solar-type stars; testing magnetic field reconstructions obtained using ZDI techniques.

    Former PhD students

  • Julian David Alvarado Gomez: (IMPRS:ESO&LMU, Graduated 2016)
  • Expert in the characterisation of magnetic activity and the coronae of slowly rotating (solar-type) and planet-hosting stars. Experience in the tomographic technique of Zeeman Doppler Imaging and modelling coronae and space weather in stellar systems using the 3D MHD BATS-R-US codes, part of the Space Weather Modeling Framework.

  • Belinda Nicholson: (Home Inst: USQ, Australia, Graduated 2019)
  • Experienced in modelling the coronae of planet-hosting cool stars and currently mapping magnetic fields in young pre-main sequence stars using HARPS spectropolarimetric data.

    Masters/postgraduate students

  • Celine Dupont: (Home Inst: DTU, Denmark)
  • Eliana Amado Gomez: (Home Inst: LMU, Germany)
  • Visiting Faculty

  • Stephen Marsden: (USQ, Australia) Nov 2015 & Feb 2016 & Mar 2018
  • Leslie Hebb: (Hobart & William Smith, USA) Summer 2016
  • CV

    Current positions, duties & roles

    2014-19 IDEX Chaire, IRAP/OMP, Toulouse, FR
    2007- ESO Astronomer, Garching, DE

    Since 2019: Head of the Editorial Team
    Since 2017: Editor of the ESO Annual Report & Messenger
    2015-2019: Deputy Head of the Office for Science, Garching
    2007-2017: Observing Programmes Office Astronomer & Editor of the Call for Proposals
    2007-2017: ESO Survey Team Member

    Past Experience

    2005-07 Research Fellow at St Andrews, UK
    2003-05 ESA Research Fellow, NL
    2000-03 Harvard Smithsonian CfA Fellow, USA
    1999-00 Postdoctoral assistant at St Andrews, UK
    1995-99 PhD in Astronomy at Univ. St Andrews, UK
    1992-95 BSc in Astronomy & Physics at UCL, UK