Curriculum Vitae

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 75 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

2020 Adjunct Professor – Tokyo Institute of Technology

2020 Honorary Doctor, Lund University, Sweden

2019 Honorary Member – Hungarian Academy of Science

2019 Gay Lussac Humboldt Award

2019 Honorary Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences 

2019 – 2024 ERC Advanced Grant 

2019 Fellow of the Max Planck School “Matter to Life” 

2018 Cozzarelli Prize (PNAS) of the National Academy of Sciences, United States

2017 Invited Professor - University of Copenhagen 

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

2016 Invited Professor - Sapporo University, Brazil

2015 Invited Professor - ESO, Santiago, Chile 

2014 Marker Lecture, Penn Sate University, United Staes

2013 ESA 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 – 2022 20 (Jena) and 53 (Heidelberg) Postdocs/ 84 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

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

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

2023 Protostars & Planets VII; Kyoto, Japan, 2023

2022 Harvard-Heidelberg Meeting on Star Formation  - 6th Meeting in Heidelberg in 2022


Institutional Responsibilities

2002 – present Faculty member (physics & astronomy), Heidelberg University, Germany 

2002 – present Faculty member (physics & astronomy), Jena University, Jena 

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)

2021 - 2023 Managing Director MPIA

Commissions of Trust (Selection)

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

2006 – 2012 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 

2021 – present LBT Board Member Representative and LBTB Chair 

2016 Visiting Committee – Royal Belgium Observatory 

2016 – 2018 IAU Special Nominating Committee 

2017 – 2019 Founding Committee – MPI for the Chemical Evolution of Life 

2019 Founding Committee – MPI for Water Research 

2018 – 2019 Member – ALMA Visiting Committee 

2019 Member of Management Board - European Astrobiology Institute & Lead of 

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

First Cells” 

2022 Evaluation Committee – Institute for Computational Science, Zurich University

2023 Evaluation Committee for Physics in Sweden

2023 Evaluation Committee for new Helmholtz Institute

2023 - 2026 Prize Committee for Kavli-Award

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

2019 – present Evaluation Committee – Institute for Computational Science, Zurich University


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

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 Carmenes Radial Velocity Survey (A. Quirrenbach, A. Reiners, I. Ribas, M. Kürster, A. Hatzes) 

2016 – 2021 ISPY Exoplanet Survey (VLT) - (S. Quanz, D. Queloz, D. Segrasan, A. Quirrenbach) 

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

2018 – present EDEN Planet Search around M stars (D.Apai) 

2018 – present MPIA-Chile TESS Exoplanet Survey (A. Jordan, N. Espinoza)

2018 – 2022 Carmenes Exoplanet Search Program

2020 – present WINE TESS Exoplanet Seach Project


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

2255 publications in total,  > 1300 refereed publications, 68.000 citations, 49.932 citation of refereed papers, 913.541 reads of all papers, H-index: 118, i100-index: 127

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