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.
My work focuses on population synthesis of exoplanets around M stars.
My trajectory in science
For my Master's project, I investigated irregular transit signatures in photometry of the Kepler space telescope.
In my Bachelor's thesis, I characterized the optics of the X-Ray space telescope micro-ROSI.
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.
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.