Dr. Christiane Helling

Research Theme:
St. Andrews
Email address:
Telephone number:
+44 (0)1334 461666
School of Physics & Astronomy, Physical Science Building, North Haugh, St Andrews, KY16 9SS, United Kingdom

Research interests

Ch Helling is the founding director of the St Andrews Centre for Exoplanet Science and a former ERC starting grant holder at the University of St Andrews.

Her main interest are modelling physics and chemistry in brown dwarf and planetary atmospheres. The understanding of exoplanet atmopsheres is hampered by cloud layers that block our views, and that are made of silicate-like materials rather than of water. Christiane Helling and Peter Woitke developed the equations that now allow to model the formation of cloud, and to predict their properties. This is a theoretical description of gas - solid/liquid phase transitions which includes nucleation, growth and evaporation, and the influence of relative motions between gas and dust on the growth process. Ch Helling's work has, for the first time, provided insight in the formation process of clouds in brown dwarfs as well as in details like grain compositions and size distribution, both essential for predicting and understanding observed spectra. 

With the ERC grant, Ch Helling's now included ionisation processes in ultra-cool atmosphere. This links very well with her work on cloud formation as it includes cloud and gas charge and discharge processes, the effects of lightning, the origin of radio and X-ray emission from such cool atmospheres. 

Ch Helling's work applies knowledge from other disciplines and developes it further for the extreme conditions encountered in astrophysical objects. She has a strong interest in interdiscipinary work.

Research group webpage


I taught 2nd, 3rd, 4/5th yr level at the University of St Andrews. This includes 'Fluids', parts of 'Exoplanets' which is now 2nd yr astronomy, 'Contemporary Astrophysics', 2nd yr Physics,  and 'Advanced Topics in Modern Physics'.  I am supervising PhD, final-year, and summer students.

Research outputs

  1. Equlibrium chemistry down to 100 K
    Peter Woitke, Christiane Helling, G.H. Hunter, J.D. Millard, G.E. Turner, M. Worters, J. Blecic and J.W. Stock, Astronomy & Astrophysics (2017)
  2. Self-consistent atmosphere modeling with cloud formation for low-mass stars and exoplanets DOI
    Diana Juncher, Uffe G. Jørgensen and Christiane Helling, Astronomy & Astrophysics, 608 (2017)
  3. Emission lines in the atmosphere of the irradiated brown dwarf WD0137−349B DOI
    E. S. Longstaff, S. L. Casewell, G. A. Wynn, P. F. L. Maxted and Ch. Helling, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 471, 2 , p. 1728-1736 (2017)
  4. MOVES – I. The evolving magnetic field of the planet-hosting star HD189733 DOI
    R. Fares, V. Bourrier, A. A. Vidotto, C. Moutou, M. M. Jardine, P. Zarka, Ch. Helling, A. Lecavelier des Etangs, J. Llama, T. Louden et al., Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 471, 1 , p. 1246-1257 (2017)
  5. Lightning chemistry on Earth-like exoplanets DOI
    Aleksandra Ardaseva, Paul B. Rimmer, Ingo Waldmann, Marco Rocchetto, Sergey N. Yurchenko, Christiane Helling and Jonathan Tennyson, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 470, 1 , p. 187-196 (2017)
  6. Dynamic mineral clouds on HD 189733b. II. Monte Carlo radiative transfer for 3D cloudy exoplanet atmospheres DOI
    G. K. H. Lee, K. Wood, I. Dobbs-Dixon, A. Rice and Ch. Helling, Astronomy & Astrophysics, 601 (2017)
  7. Comparison Catalogue of Gas-Equilibrium Constants, Kp DOI
    Megan Worters, Drew Millard, Glen Hunter, Christiane Helling and Peter Woitke (2017)
  8. Graphical Comparison of Mineral Gibbs Free Energy Data DOI
    Peter Woitke, Christiane Helling and George Turner (2017)
  9. Dynamic mineral clouds on HD 189733b DOI
    G. Lee, I. Dobbs-Dixon, Ch. Helling, K. Bognar and P. Woitke, Astronomy & Astrophysics, 594 (2016)
  10. Lightning climatology of exoplanets and brown dwarfs guided by Solar system data DOI
    G. Hodosán, Ch. Helling, R. Asensio-Torres, I. Vorgul and P. B. Rimmer, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 461, 4 , p. 3927-3947 (2016)
Last updated: 06 Apr 2018 at 21:14