Martin Schlecker

Doctoral Student @ Max Planck Institute for Astronomy



Welcome to my homepage.

I am an astrophysicist working in the field of planet formation and evolution, both from a theoretical perspective and by observing exoplanet systems with state-of-the-art telescopes.

Since September 2017, I have been a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg and a fellow of the IMPRS School for Astronomy and Cosmic Physics.

My work focuses on population synthesis of exoplanets around M stars.

My trajectory in science

Since 2017: PhD in Astronomy
Max Planck Institute for Astronomy

Currently, I am pursuing a PhD under supervision of Thomas Henning and Hubert Klahr at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.

2016–2017: Master's Thesis
European Southern Observatory

For my Master's project, I investigated irregular transit signatures in photometry of the Kepler space telescope.

2015: Internship
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

During my Master's, I took a semester off to help perform validation tests of DLR's HP3 heat flow probe. Right now it is hammering itself into the Martian ground as a major payload of NASA's InSight mission.

2013: Bachelor's Thesis
Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics

In my Bachelor's thesis, I characterized the optics of the X-Ray space telescope micro-ROSI.


Population Synthesis

The formation of planets in the Solar System and beyond requires growth across more than 40 orders of magnitude in mass. Because of this tremendous range and the complexity of the involved processes, we cannot achieve a satisfying understanding of planet formation from fundamental physical models that are only applicable in particular domains.

Planet Population Synthesis is an indirect approach to study the conditions necessary for planet formation and evolution. It compares the properties of observed exoplanets, e.g. mass and orbital radius, to the ones obtained from planet formation simulations. This technique is particularly promising if one has access to an observational data set with a well-known detection bias that can be taken into account when comparing observations with theory.

My observational data come mainly from the CARMENES survey, which searches for Earth-mass planets around nearby M-dwarf stars. In my PhD project, I use global models of planet formation and evolution in protoplanetary disks to produce synthetic populations of planets. By calibrating these simulations to the CARMENES exoplanet populations, we can improve our understanding of key processes such as the growth of planetesimals and their migration behavior.

Project EDEN

The ExoEarth Discovery and Exploration Network (EDEN) transit survey is a large-scale search for transiting habitable zone Earth-sized planets around nearby stars. In contrast to most ongoing and past surveys, the EDEN team utilizes large research telescopes (0.8m–2.4m), which allows for efficient probing of the habitable zones of late M-dwarf stars.

With the full-scale survey ongoing, MPIA contributes more than 100 nights of observations with the Calar Alto 1.2m telescope. I am leading the team of eleven PhD students that performs these observations remotely. Being interested in planet demographics, I am also involved in EDEN's target selection and survey statistics.