Main Focus

I am an astrophysicist with an expertise in exoplanet detection, planet formation, and planetary habitability. As a Team Leader of ESA's upcoming PLATO mission I coordinate the generation of the PLATO input sub-catalogs and the development of the Data Analysis Support Tools of the mission. In my research time, I led a search for extrasolar planets in the large data set from NASA's Kepler mission, in which we found dozens of new planets.

Curriculum Vitae

Education and Employment

2023-today Team Lead and Scientist for the PLATO space mission of ESA, MPS

2016-2023 Scientist for the PLATO space mission of ESA, MPS

2020 July Habilitation in astrophysics (promotion to lecture and supervise at German Universities), U Göttingen

2015-2016 DAAD scholar, Institute for Astrophysics Göttingen, U Göttingen

2013-2015 Postdoc fellow, Canadian Astrobiology Training Program, Origins Institute, McMaster U, Canada

2010-2013 Postdoc, Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam

2007-2010 PhD, DFG Graduiertenkolleg "Extrasolar Planets and Their Host Stars", Hamburger Sternwarte

Selected Awards

2022 Robert-Wichard-Pohl Medal for outstanding achievements in teaching, Faculty of Physics at U Göttingen

2018 Lecturer Grant for outstanding teaching performance, awarded by the Hans Lenze Foundation Aerzen 

2013 Best talk award "Centre of Advanced Studies in Astrobiology (CASA)", awarded by the European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA) 

Selected Publications

[9] (Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2022, Vol. 665, A11, 19 pp.) 

R. Heller, J.-V. Harre, R. Samadi – Transit least-squares survey IV. Earth-like transiting planets expected from the PLATO mission [ADS]

[8] (Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2020, Vol. 638, A10, 14 pp.) 

R. Heller, M. Hippke, J. Freudenthal, K. Rodenbeck, N. M. Batalha, S. Bryson — Transit least-squares survey. III. A 1.9 Earth radius transit candidate in the habitable zone of Kepler-160 and a nontransiting planet characterized by transit-timing variations [ADS]

[7] (Nature Astronomy, 2020, Vol. 4, Issue 4, pp. 294-295)
R. Heller — Habitability is a continuous property of nature 
[ADS] | [Nature Astronomy free online PDF]

[6] (Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2019, Vol. 623, A39, 13 pp.) 

M. Hippke, R. Heller — Optimized transit detection algorithm to search for periodic transits of small planets 

[5] (Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2019, Vol. 628, A42, 14 pp.) 

R. Heller — Formation of hot Jupiters through disk migration and evolving stellar tides 

[4] (Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2019, Vol. 627, A66, 10 pp.) 

R. Heller, M. Hippke, K. Rodenbeck — Transit least-squares survey. II. Discovery and validation of 17 new sub- to super-Earth-sized planets in multi-planet systems from K2 

[3] (Astrobiology, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 1, pp. 50-66) 

R. Heller, J. Armstrong — Superhabitable Worlds 

[2] (Astrobiology, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 1, pp. 18-46, Astrobiology cover story)
R. Heller, R. Barnes — Exomoon habitability constrained by illumination and tidal heating 

[1] (Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2011, Vol. 528, A27, 16 pp.) 

R. Heller, J. Leconte, R. Barnes — Tidal obliquity evolution of potentially habitable planets 

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