About me

I am a Colombian astronomer doing research on young massive stars and their effect on planet formation. Since 2019 I am an independent postdoc at the PSF department of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg, and since 2021 I am co-leading the XUE collaboration. I obtained my PhD at the Anton Pannekoek Institute (API), University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands under the supervision of Lex Kaper and Alex de Koter (you can access my PhD thesis here ). My current research interests include the formation and early evolution of massive stars, the properties of remnant disks around massive young stellar objects, the insterstellar environment in high mass star forming regions, and the effect of their high UV radiation on planet-forming disks. You can see a PDF with my CV here.


Massive stars play a crucial role in the Universe. They shape their surroundings by injecting large amounts of energy and momentum and they produce new, heavy elements that are the building blocks of new stars, planets, and life. They are usually observed in close binaries. Due to the lack of observations covering the earliest stages of their lives, the formation process of massive (binary) stars is poorly understood. In order to learn about the formation and early evolution of massive stars I do observational studies of the outcome of massive star formation.

Since the launch of JWST we can also study the effect of the UV radiation from massive stars on the inner regions of proto-planetary disks. I am the co-PI (together with Arjan Bik) of the eXtreme UV Envirionments (XUE) collaboration. We are taking advantage of the unique resolution and sensitivity of JWST to study planet formation in extreme environments.

You can view my publications in ADS here and my ORCiD is 0000-0001-9698-4080.

  • Planet Formation in Extreme Environments

    Thanks to JWST, we can now observe the terrestrial-planet forming zone (< 10 au) of disks around solar-like stars, but in the environments in which most stars and planets form: Massive star-forming regions. Within the XUE collaboration we are targetting highly irradiated proto-planetary disks with the medium-resolution spectrometer (MRS) of JWST's Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) in order to determine their physical and chemical properties. Click here to find out more about the XUE project and to read the press releases based on our results.

  • Studying the outcome of massive star formation

    M17 is a unique region to study the outcome of massive star formation. It is very young (≤ 1 Myr), and the massive stars in its central cluster (NGC 6618) have cleared the surrounding dust and gas revealing the forming high mass pre-main sequence stars. For the last few years we have been studying the properties of Massive premain sequence stars in M17; from their disk and atmospheric properties, to their multiplicity. Click here to see the series of papers about M17 and other publications on the outcome of massive star formation.

Outreach & Media

I am committed to bring my knowledge and passion for astronomy to society. I regularly give outreach talks and collaborate with the press to write about my scientific output. I am also passionate about inspiring young generations to pursue a career in science. Most of the outreach I do is targeted to my home country Colombia, so most of the talks and podcasts are in Spanish.


Here you find a selection of talks that I've given.




07.2023 eXtreme UV Environments (XUE): Planet-forming disks in extreme radiation environments S7: One year of JWST: PDRs, protostars, disks, and planets, EAS Krakow, Poland Invited talk
07.2023 The first JWST view of planet forming disks in extreme environments SS27: The young Milky Way, EAS Krakow, Poland Invited talk
12.2022 Disks on Fire: Planet-forming disks in extreme environments JWST first science results conference, STScI Baltimore, USA Contributed talk
06.2022 The early lives of massive stars API 100 conference, Amsterdam, NL Invited speaker
04.2022 On the formation of close massive binary stars Joint ESO/ALMA Colloquium, Vitacura, Chile Invited (online)
11.2021 30Dor and other nearby starburst clusters Advanced school on star formation, Granada, Spain Invited Lecturer
07.2017 M17: Hints on the origin of close massive binaries? The impact of binaries on stellar evolution, ImBaSE 2017, ESO/Garching Talk


Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Office: 320
+49 6221 528-429