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Andromeda Galaxy Picture of Roeland van
der Marel

Professional Homepage Roeland van der Marel

About me: STScI profile, Linkedin profile, WikiPedia profile, Biographies, Personal Homepage
Resesarch: News, Top Stories, Papers, Awards, Outreach, Videos, Audio
Topics: Local Group Galaxies, Supermassive Black Holes, Globular Clusters, Starburst Galaxies, Exoplanets
Telescopes: Hubble, Webb, Gaia, Roman, Stories

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I am a tenured Astronomer on the scientific staff of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore. I am also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the nearby Johns Hopkins University. I acquired a love for science at an early age and turned my curiosity into the nature of the Universe into my profession. I was born in the Netherlands and obtained M.Sc. degrees in astronomy and mathematics, and subsequently a PhD degree in astronomy, all at Leiden University. I am a member of the International Astronomical Union, the American Astronomical Society, the European Astronomical Society, and the Royal Dutch Astronomical Society.

I am an expert on the structure and dynamics of galaxies and stellar systems in the nearby Universe, and on the central black holes that they often contain. I have authored hundreds of papers in scientific journals, books and other publications, which have been cited some 20,000 times. My research and the images that I have obtained with Hubble and other telescopes have been discussed on television and radio, and in newspapers, magazines and museum exhibits around the world.

My career has focused on performing forefront research in a wide range of subject areas, on using and advancing state-of-start astronomical observatories in space, on securing and using government funding to build, lead and manage large teams of experts in these areas, on training next generations of scientists, post-doctoral researchers and graduate students, and on enthusing the general public about astronomy.


HSTPROMO logo

[Hubble] The High-Resolution Space Telescope Proper Motion Collaboration (HSTPROMO)

The Hubble Space Telescope has been revolutionizing astronomy since its launch in 1990, due to its exquisite sharpness and stability, and its wide range of scientific instruments. I am a frequent user of Hubble. I established and lead the HSTPROMO collaboration, and have led many of its projects over the past 2 decades. The collaboration consists of science investigations with various high-resolution space telescopes, and especially Hubble, aimed at improving our dynamical understanding of stars, clusters, and galaxies in the nearby Universe through measurement and interpretation of their proper (i.e., sideways) motions.

For example, check out my team's 2012 Hubble Space Telescope results on the motion of the Andromeda galaxy M31:

or my 2014 Hubble Space Telescope results on the rotation of the Large Magellanic Cloud

Also, from 2002-2005, I led the team at STScI responsible for the calibration and user support of the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and Wide Field Planatery Camera 2 (WFPC2) instruments on the Hubble Space Telescope.


James Webb Space Telescope

[Webb] JWST Telescope Scientist Team

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a 6.5m diameter telescope launched by NASA in 2021. Its infrared-detecting technology is revolutionizing our understanding of the Universe across a wide range of topics. I am the Principal Investigator of its the Telescope Scientist Team. Over two decades we have provided scientific support of Webb Observatory development, and we are now using Guaranteed Time Observer (GTO) time to obtain and analyze observations in the subject areas of exoplanet transit spectroscopy, high-contrast imaging, and Local Group Proper Motion Science. The specific investigations that I lead myself address, e.g., the black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, and the structure dwarf galaxies and the nature of dark matter.

Also, from 2006-2014, I grew and led the team at STScI responsible for supporting the JWST telescope optics development, and the preparations for its alignment and guiding. This laid essential building blocks for the successful focusing of JWST during observatory commissioning in early 2022 through a complex wavefront sensing and control process.


Gaia telescope

[Gaia] European Space Agency Gaia Mission

The Gaia mission was launched by the European Space Agency in 2013 to perform global astrometry and to build the largest, most precise three-dimensional map of our Galaxy and its nearby environment by surveying nearly two billion objects. Its public catalogs have been used by astronomers worldwide for studies of subject areas across astronomy.

I myself published the first paper to use Gaia data to study the dynamics of a Local Group galaxy, as well as the first paper to use Gaia data to study the dynamics of the Andromeda Galaxy System. Moreover, as part of the HSTPROMO collaboration that I lead we have now used Gaia data for studies of a wide range of other topics in Local Group dynamics.


Roman Logo

[Roman] Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope

Some of the world's most powerful telescopes are in space. The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, formerly called the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), will provide images as sharp as the Hubble Space Telescope, but over a hundred times larger area. This new space observatory is in development for launch in late-2026. The telescope will uncover mysteries of the universe through different scientific investigations: probing the distribution of dark matter and the characteristics of dark energy, measuring the abundance and characteristics of planets orbiting other stars, and providing observations and surveys to study many other astrophysical subjects.

From 2014-2023 I was the Head of the Science Operations Center for Roman. In this role I built from scratch a team of more than 200 matrixed STScI staff to support the mission and build the systems for scheduling, calibrating, and archiving the mission data. I led this team through successful completion of the mission formulation, design and early-development phases. I also negotiated the government contracts to enable this work through launch. As a member of the Leadership Team of the STScI Organization, I also participated in setting the overall direction for all our work on NASA space astronomy missions.


Black Holes: Gravity's
Relentless Pull

[Outreach] Black Holes: Gravity's Relentless Pull

In 2004-2005 I led a team that developed an educational website about the fascinating properties of Black Holes. I also wrote most of its scientific content. The site won the Top Prize of the 2005 Pirelli Awards for the best internet site worldwide devoted to the comunication of science and technology.

The software for the site was also freely available from STScI for use in museum kiosk exhibits, and that version won a MUSE award from the American Association of Museums. There was also a Dutch version of this website.


LMC on front cover of AJ

[Research] Papers, Presentations, Projects, Statistics



Pirelli Award Ceremony Photo

[Awards] Recognitions, Honors, Achievements



[Top Stories] Research Highlights and Media Reports

Local Group Galaxies and Milky Way

LMC Rotation Image
HST image of NGC 7052

Supermassive Black Holes and Galaxy Nuclei

Intermediate-Mass Black Holes and Globular Clusters


I Zw 18 Image

Starburst Galaxies and Star-forming Regions

Exoplanets and Debris Disks

Missions and Surveys

Biographical Features


NGC 6240 image

Video Clips


M31 Image

Audio segments

Selected Popular Articles authored:

Links to General Astronomy Internet Resources:



[Personal] General Interest

For a discussion of my general interests outside of astronomy, please see my Personal Homepage. This includes a discussion of the genealogical history of my family (in Dutch, with Google translation into English available):


Last modified May 28, 2024.
Roeland van der Marel, Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA marel@stsci.edu.
Disclaimer: The postings on http://www.stsci.edu/~marel/ and all of its subpages are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of STScI.
Copyright Notice.