Scientific and Teaching Activities

I am an astrophysicist working for the PLATO space mission of the European Space Agency. After launch in 2026, PLATO will observe about a million stars over several years to discover Earth-like planets. I am responsible for computer simulations of stellar light curves, development of outlier detection algorithms in lightcurves, computer code implementation of statistical data analysis, and data mining. My scientific interest is in the detection, orbital evolution, and habitability of extrasolar planets and moons and I am the first author of 26 peer-reviewed journal publications. These are some of my most important discoveries:

I am a lecturer at the University of Göttingen where I also supervise PhD student Kai Rodenbeck and master student Anina Timmermann.


2018/Dec/05: Published research paper "Hot bubbles of planetary nebulae (...) with application to BD+30°3639" (Heller et al. 2018, A&A)

2018/Oct/24: Talk at the PLATO Exoplanet workshop in Marseille about exomoon detection in the presence of stellar (and other) noise [PDF, 18 MB]

2018/Oct/03: Interviews with Nature, Scientific American, Sky & Telescope, Science News, and ABC Ciencia about new evidence for exomoon around Kepler-1625b

2018/Sep/28: Invited to give a talk at the "Planet Formation and Evolution" workshop in Rostock, Feb 2019

2018/Sep/28: Invited to colloquium of the Heidelberg Initiative for the Origins of Life to talk about habitable planets around red dwarf stars, 7 Nov 2018

2018/Sep/21: Joined the International Astronomical Union as a member of "Division F Planetary Systems and Astrobiology"

2018/Sep/12: Published research paper "Revisiting the exomoon candidate signal around Kepler-1625b" (Rodenbeck, Heller, Hippke, Gizon 2018, A&A)

2018/Jun/20: Interview with The New York Times about Earth's summer solstice and the effect of seasons the habitability of extrasolar planets

2018/Jun/18: Published pre-print of research paper "Formation of hot Jupiters through disk migration and evolving stellar tides" (Heller 2018b, A&A submitted)

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: 6 December 2018