Henri Boffin – About

Dr. Henri M. J. Boffin

is a Full Astronomer at ESO, working in the User Support Department, where he supports SPHERE, FORS2, MUSE, and KMOS. He is also the Instrument Scientist of the Exposure Time Calculator 2.0 for ESO La Silla Paranal instruments and the Operations Scientist of the FORS-Up project. He is the current Secretary of the IAU Commission G1 Binary and Multiple Star Systems.

From August 2010 till April 2016, he was an ESO Paranal Operations Staff Astronomer and the FORS2 and HARPS instrument scientist, and was in charge of the training.

He obtained his PhD from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, in 1993.

As he is very keen to share science with society, he has experience in journalism and editing (with a diploma from the Ecole Superieure de Journalisme de Lille), and in 2003, joined ESO as Astronomer and Press Officer, dealing with communication about all telescopes and projects of ESO. He was member of the steering committee of the very successful Venus Transit 2004 Programme and of the EIROforum Science on Stage festivals, and coordinator of the IYA 2009 Gigagalaxy Zoom project. He therefore also devised and gives a course on writing and communicating your science.


Professional Activities

2016-today: Full Astronomer, User Support Department at ESO, Garching, Germany

2010-2016: Paranal Operations Staff Astronomer and Deputy Head of the Office for Science at ESO, Chile

2003-2010: Astronomer, Press Officer and Deputy Head of Public Affairs Department at ESO, Garching

1998-2003: Senior Astronomer at the Royal Observatory of Belgium

1996-1998: Research Assistant in the Star Formation group at Cardiff University (UK)

1994-1996: EU/JSPS Fellow at Kyoto and Kobe Universities (Japan)

November 15, 1990 - March 30, 1991: Guest of Max-Planck Insitut für Astrophysik (Garching bei Munchen, Germany)

October 1987 - October 1990: I.R.S.I.A. fellowship



1994: Graduated from the 1st promotion of “Journalist & Scientist” at the Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme de Lille, France.

May 1993: Ph.D. Thesis in Astrophysics obtained at the Université Libre de Bruxelles : "Is mass transfer a necessary and sufficient condition to explain Barium stars?", Supervisor: Prof. Marcel Arnould

July 1987: Licence en Sciences Physiques obtained at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.



His research is devoted to the world of close binary stars, their formation and evolution. To this aim, he combines both observational and theoretical work, including hydrodynamical simulations. His current scientific interests further include barium and symbiotic stars, Algols and binary nuclei of planetary nebulae, but more generally all interacting binary stars. He studies young and older clusters, including finding long tidal tails or looking at their blue straggler populations. He also works on exoplanets, and more particularly on transmission spectroscopy.
He has organised several workshops, about topics as diverse as blue straggler stars, artificial intelligence or the future of astronomy.

Read more in the Research page.

P.S.: This is written at the third person to make it easier for talk and workshop organisers to copy and paste when introducing me.