Profile of the advisor

Prof. dr. Floris van der Tak was trained in astrophysics and astrochemistry in Leiden, Bonn, and Berkeley. Since moving to Groningen in 2006, his interest has expanded into astrobiology and exoplanet habitability.

Central questions in his research are:
-Why do some galaxies form many more stars than others?
-Why do not all stars have similar masses?
-How are organic molecules formed in space?
-What makes planets habitable?

Van der Tak has published over 190 papers in peer-reviewed journals, which have been cited over 8500 times. Highlights include the first detections of interstellar H2D+, ND3, and other molecules, the discovery of variations of the cosmic-ray ionization rate across our Galaxy, and the detection of rotating disks around high-mass protostars.


Submillimeter observations, molecular line spectra, radiative transfer models, high-mass star formation.

Profile of the research group

The group of Van der Tak has contributed significantly to our understanding of the physical structure and chemical composition of star-forming regions. Their key methodological advances are the development of advanced radiative transfer programs, innovative modeling techniques, and databases. Currently, the group focuses on the origin of amino acids in space, the lifetimes of interstellar gas clouds under UV irradiation, the delivery of volatile material to (exo)planetary surfaces, the detectability of potential biomarkers in exoplanet spectra, and the habitability of moons around exoplanets. The group consists mostly of international students, with a male/female ratio of about unity.