Curriculum Vitae

Prof. Dr. Th. Henning
Prof. Dr. Th. Henning

I am an astrophysicist interested in the fomation of stars and planetary systems, the properties of exoplanets and their atmospheres. I have a special interest in the chemistry of the universe and computational and laboratory astrophysics. I am building instruments for my science, especially based on adaptive optics and infrared interferometry, but also using spaced-based observatories. I enjoy working with students and postdocs and have supervised more than 60 Ph.D students during my professional career.

Certainly related to my family background I am interested in the philosophy of science and have a passion for literature and modern arts.
Public outreach is an important element of my life and I am editing the largest popular astronomy journal for the German-speaking countries, Sterne und Weltraum, and played an important role in establishing the astronomy public outreach center Haus der Astronomie in Heidelberg.

I am interested in combining different fields to make progress in our understanding of the origins of life. I have a great interest in the Chilean nation, where the best skies for astronomers and some of the most breathtaking landscapes on this planet can be found.

A summary of my education, career, and work can be found online at my Wikipedia entry [en] [de].

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Personal Information

Name: Thomas Kai Henning

Address: Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany




1989  Habilitation, University of Jena

1984 PhD in Astrophysics, University of Jena

1981 Diploma Degree in Physics, University of Jena

1976 – 1980 Studies in Physics and Mathematics, University of Greifswald


Current Position(s)

2002 – present Professor for Astrophysics, University of Jena

2001 – present Director at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy & Head of Planet and Star Formation Department, Heidelberg


Previous Positions

2000 – 2002 Director of the Astrophysical Institute & University Observatory, Univ. of Jena

1999 – 2002 Chair for Astrophysics, University of Jena

1992 – 1998 Professor for Astrophysics, University of Jena

1991 – 1996 Head of the Max Planck Research Unit “Star Formation”, Jena

1989 – 1990 Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy, Bonn

1986 – 1988 Assistant Professor at the Astrophysical Institute and University  Observatory, Jena

1984 – 1985 Postdoc, Charles University, Prague


Fellowships & Awards

2019 Honorary Member – Hungarian Academy of Science

2019 ERC Advanced Grant

2019 Fellow of the Max Planck School Matter to Life

2018 Cozzarelli Prize (PNAS)

2017 Invited Professor - University of Copenhagen

2016 - present Adjunct Professor - Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, India

2016 Invited Professor - Sapporo University

2015 Invited Professor - ESO Chile

2014 Marker Lecture, Pennstate University

2012 JWST Significant Achievement Award

2011 Littrow Lecture, Austrian Academy of Sciences 

2009 30882 Tomhenning: Designation of minor planet 1992 SG2

2001 Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society

1999 Member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina

1999 Invited Professor - University of Amsterdam

1997 Fundamental Research Award of the Federal State of Thuringia 


Supervision of Graduate Students & Postdoctoral Fellows

1988 – 2019 20 (Jena) and 52 (Heidelberg) Postdocs/ 80 PhD students/ ~50 Master students,

~ 7 Habilitations (second doctoral degree in Germany)

~30 of former group members now occupy tenure(-track) faculty/research   positions (see also:


2002 – present Honorary Professor for Astronomy, University of Heidelberg



(PI as organizer or in SOC, 2012+, participants at conferences ~100, at Ringberg Castle ~60)

2012 Extrasolar Planetary Atmospheres, Heidelberg, Germany

2013 Protostars and Planets VI, Heidelberg, Germany (~850 participants)

2014 Chemical Diagnostics in the ALMA/NOEMA Era, Heidelberg, Germany

2015 The Magneto-Rational Instability confronts Observations, Ringberg Castle,Germany

2016 Exoplanets I, Davos, Switzerland

2017 Resolving Planet Formation in the Era of ALMA and Extreme AO, Santiago de Chile

2018 Exoplanets II, Cambridge, UK; Exoplanets III, Heidelberg, Germany, 2020

2019 Protostars & Planets VII; Kyoto, Japan, 2021

Co-Organizer of Conference Series: “Early Phase of Star Formation (EPOS)” - 8thMeeting in 2019

Harvard-Heidelberg Meeting on Star Formation  - 5thMeeting in Harvard in 2018

Tokyo-Heidelberg Meeting on Planet Formation - 4thMeeting in Edesheim, Germany in 2018


Institutional Responsibilities

2002 – present Facultymember,Heidelberg University, Germany

2001 – present Director, MPIA Research Department Planet and Star Formation

2001 – present Scientific Member of the Chemistry, Physics & Technology Section of the Max Planck Society (MPG)


Commissions of Trust 

2001 – 2008 President of the Scientific Council of the European Interferometry Initiative

2006 – 2007 Advisory Committee of the Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics

2007 – 2016 ESO Council Member (Vice President for one election period)

2008 – 2010 Panel Chair of the European Research Council for Advanced Investigator Grants

2008 – present Advisory Committee of the Thuringian State Observatory Tautenburg

2010 – 2016 ESO Strategic Working Group

2011 – 2017 COSPAR National Committee

2012 – 2018 Stern - Gerlach Prize Committee

2012 – 2015 Steering Committee of IAU Division H Interstellar Matter and the Local Universe

2015 – present IAU Laboratory Astrophysics Commission

2015 Evaluation Panel for Turku University

2015 – present Coordinator – Heidelberg Initiative for the Origins of Life (HIFOL)

2015 – 2017 CAHA Executive Board

2015 – 2017 LBT Board Member Representative and LBTB Chair

2016 Visiting Committee – Royal Belgium Observatory

2016 – 2018 IAU Special Nominating Committee

2017 – Founding Committee – MPI for the Chemical Evolution of Life                               

2018 – Member – ALMA Visiting Committee

2019 – Member – Cluster of Excellence “Structures” at the University of Heidelberg

2019 – Member of the Interim Management Board - European Astrobiology Institute & 

 Lead of Working Group “The Pathway to Complexity. From Simple Molecules to 

 First Cells”   

-- Referee for UK, Belgian, Danish, Dutch, Finish, French, Spanish, Swiss, Swedish, Canadian, Israeli, Russian, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, US funding organizations and prize committees


Memberships in Scientific Societies

1990 – present Member of Astronomische Gesellschaft (AG)  

1990 – present Member of Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG)

1991 – present Member of International Astronomical Union (IAU)


Editor of Journals

Molecular Astrophysics, Living Reviews in Computational Astrophysics, Sterne und Weltraum (popular journal, main editor), Star Formation Newsletter


Major Collaborations (selected)

Consortium collaborations

2007 – present Chemistry in Disks (A. Dutrey, U. Gorti,  S. Guilloteau, V.Wakelam, V.Piétu, D. Semenov, R. Teague)

2010 – present HatSouth Planet Search (G. Bakos, D. Bayliss, A. Jordan)

2015 – present SPHERE Exoplanet SHINE & Disk Program (VLT) - (G. Chauvin, C. Dominik)

2016 – present ISPY Exoplanet Survey (VLT) - (S. Quanz, D. Queloz, D. Segrasan, A. Quirrenbach)

2006 – 2014 PanSTARRS1 (N. Kaiser, K.Chambers)


Instrument Consortia (Selection)

FIFI-LS at Sofia (CoI), PACS at Herschel (CoI), MIRI at JWST (CoPI), MATISSE at VLTI (CoPI), SHARK-IR at LBT (CoI), CARMENES, GRAVITY, METIS, WFIRST: Science Team Member

LUVOIR: International Member – Science and Technology Definition Team


Publication Impact

> 1.050 refereed publications, 48.700 citations, H-index: 100

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