Scientific and Teaching Activities

I am an astrophysicist at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, where I am involved in preparations of the PLATO space mission of the European Space Agency. PLATO will measure brightness fluctuations of hundreds of thousands of stars over several years to discover Earth-sized planets in the stellar habitable zone. In the PLATO consortium, I am responsible for astrophysical source simulations, the development of the on-board outlier detection algorithms in lightcurves, and for data mining tools. My special interest is in the detection, orbital evolution, and habitability of extrasolar planets and moons.

Beyond that, I am pursuing my habilitation at the University of Göttingen to conduct self-contained university teaching. My habilitation thesis is based on my research about extrasolar planets and moons, and I continuously serve as a lecturer and organizer of exercises at the University of Göttingen.


2018/Feb/20: reports on my research paper "The nature of the giant exomoon candidate Kepler-1625 b-i" (Heller 2018)

2018/Jan/02: Research paper "Photogravimagnetic assists of light sails: a mixed blessing for Breakthrough Starshot? " (Forgan, Heller, Hippke 2018) published in MNRAS

2017/Nov/21: Public talk at the University of Göttingen "Aufbruch zu den Sternen: Mit Breakthrough Starshot zu α Centauri und seinen Planeten" (press release Förderverein Planetarium Göttingen e.V.)

2017/Nov/21: Free pre-print of "The nature of the giant exomoon candidate Kepler-1625 b-i" (Heller 2018) available on A&A website (paper accepted)

2017/Oct/20: Invited talk at the Astrobiology Seminar at Stockholm University's Astrobiology Center

2017/Aug/07: Contributed talk at the PLATO Mission Conference entitled "Extrasolar Moons"

2017/Jul/27: Invited book chapter "Detecting and Characterizing Exomoons and Exorings" for Springer's Handbook of Exoplanets published online

Dr. René Heller

Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3
37077 Göttingen

phone: (0049) 551 - 384 979 252
e-mail: heller[AT]
twitter: @DrReneHeller
Hypothetical exomoons about Kepler-22b

last update: 21 February 2018