Several members of the Science Faculty at ESTEC carry out research in the field of Galactic astronomy. This includes research on star formation and evolution, on resolved stellar populations, on exoplanets, on the kinematics and dynamics of stars and stellar systems, and on the interstellar medium. Research is carried out by tenured staff and fellows, usually in collaboration with other scientists in the community.

If you are interested in the ESA fellowship and are looking for contacts to ask questions or discuss your research plans, you will find below a list of people and a short summary of what we do. Do not hesitate to write to us, even if you do not see you preferred topic in the list, as chances are that one of us is working in that area, also through external collaborations.


Here is a schematic summary of who does what

  Star formation & evolution Exoplanets Binaries Clusters Interstellar medium
Jos de Bruijne     X X  
Guido De Marchi X   X X X
Bernard Foing X       X
Giovanna Giardino X X   X  
Ana Heras   X      
Gaitee Hussain X X      
Kate Isaak   X      
Tereza Jerabkova X   X X  
Erik Kuulkers     X    
Rene Laureijs         X
Daniel Michalik     X X  
Göran Pilbratt X X      
Timo Prusti X     X X
Jan Tauber         X
Alice Zocchi       X  



Individual Research areas


  • Jos de Bruijne is interested in dynamical modelling of galaxies, in young stellar groups (dynamics, structure, radial velocities, astrometry, runaway stars), and in high-time-resolution energy-resolved photon-counting observations in the optical using Superconducting Tunnel Junction detectors. For more information see the list of publications.


  • Guido De Marchi's main scientific interests include star formation, the properties of pre-main sequence stars and their accretion process, the study of resolved stellar populations, the structure of star clusters and their dynamical evolution, and the properties of the interstellar medium in nearby galaxies. He makes extensive use of the HST and the VLT in his research and works with photometry and spectroscopy from the UV to the near IR. He leads an approved research programme with JWST on star formation in the local group. For more details see and his list of publications.


  • Bernard Foing's research interests include Galactic Astrobiology (interstellar medium and diffuse interstellar bands, fullerenes and PAHs, large organics in space), Solar/Stellar/Exoplanetary science (stellar spectroscopy and photometry, solar like activity and variability in stellar systems, exoplanet characterisation), Planetary science and Techniques (space missions and ground observations, instruments, telescopes, cameras, spectrometers, Young professionals training). He is also involved in the joint activities with ESAC in the Exoplanets and protoplanetary disks groupFor more information see the list of publications.


  • Giovanna Giardino's currents scientific interests are connected with the astrophysical research that will be enabled by the NIRSpec instrument on board the JWST, with a particular focus to the studies of the formation and evolution of galaxies and the preparation of observations to observe the atmosphere of extra-solar planets. For more information see the list of publications.


  • Ana Heras' current interest is the study of exoplanets and their host stars, focusing on multi-band observations of planetary transits to analyse the stellar activity, and understand its impact on the light curves for an improved determination of the planet parameters. Other areas of interest include the assessment of planetary candidates through complementary observations and statistical analysis. Ana also collaborates with the Exoplanets and protoplanetary discs group at ESAC. For more information see the list of publications


  • Gaitee Hussain's research interests are focused on probing the role that stellar activity plays in the evolution of stars and in shaping their immediate surroundings. As stars form they interact with large circumstellar discs, setting the conditions in which fledgling planetary systems are born. Much older billion-year-old sun-like stars also display activity and variability at all wavelengths, shaping the environments in which planets are embedded; this activity also limits our ability to detect those same planets. I develop techniques to probe stellar activity and variability, model Space Weather around these stars, and to robustly detect exoplanets around young and very active stars. For more information see and her list of publications



  • Tereza Jerabkova (to be completed.)


  • Erik Kuulkers's research interests include various types of cataclysmic vaiables and X-ray binaries. He is particularly interested in the study of thermo-nuclear explosions on neutron stars (called Type I X-ray bursts), as well as binary parameters determination of compact star systems. One of his current research projects is a program to monitor the source activity in the Galactic bulge regularly and frequently with INTEGRAL, following ~200 sources every INTEGRAL orbit (~2.6 days) for 3.5 hours, whenever the region is visible and making X-ray and gamma-ray light curves and images available as soon as possible. For more details see the Galactic bulge monitoring program. Here is a list of his publications.


  • Rene Laureijs is interested in the physics of interstellar dust, the related physical processes, and the observational implications. He has been involved in research projects observing dusty targets in the interstellar medium of the Galaxy and in other galaxies, dust polarization, debris discs, etc. These studies were done using infrared and submillimetre facilities like IRAS, ISO and Planck. In the context of the Euclid mission, his personal research interests have shifted towards extragalactic astronomy and the investigation of solar system objects. Here is a list of the publications


  • Daniel Michalik is interested in astrometry, particularly in the context of long-period binaries and nearby open clusters. His PhD thesis research laid the foundation for the Tycho-Gaia Astrometric Solution (TGAS) in the first Gaia data release. Other areas of interest include observational astronomy from Antarctica. For more information see the list of publications


  • Göran Pilbratt (to be completed...)


  • Timo Prusti's scientific interests fall under topics related to star formation. These span studies of young star clusters in nearby regions to research of disks around stars. At the moment work is focusing to utilise the Gaia DR2 as of 25 April 2018. Of special attention are young stellar populations in the Gould Belt region both to probe star formation processes, but also to understand the Gould Belt structure itself. For more information see the list of publications 


  • Jan Tauber's personal research has revolved around the study of the interstellar medium in our own Galaxy, in particular its spatial structure. In the distant past he built instruments for ground-based and balloon-based observations of molecular lines at submm wavelengths. In the past years, he has been closely involved in the Planck mission, which has yielded superb all-sky continuum maps of the Milky Way that can be used to constrain the properties of both the gas and dust that it contains. He has a particular interest in the measurement of the Galactic magnetic field using Planck polaried data. More recently, together with Pedro Carvalho and Marcos López-Caniego, he is developing a catalogue of compact sources extracted from the Planck maps on the basis of their thermal emission. These sources include many of the coldest clumps in the galactic ISM. Here is his list of publications.


  • Alice Zocchi's research focuses on the dynamics of stellar clusters, particularly globular clusters, where several factors play a role. Rotation, pressure anisotropy, external tides, mass segregation, and the presence of an intermediate mass black hole in the centre contribute to shape the observable properties of these clusters. As part of her fellowship, she is including these factors into dynamical models to describe the systems, with the aim of obtaining a better understanding of their formation and evolution. Data from Gaia are an important piece of this puzzle: by providing accurate proper motions for a large number of stars Gaia enables a deep investigation of the dynamics of these systems. Here is a list of her publications.






This web page is managed by Guido De Marchi at ESTEC.

To contact us by email, please use the address depending on the location.

  • If the person resides at ESTEC, use the form
  • If the person resides at ESAC, use the form