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WFIRST-AFTA Picture of Roeland van
der Marel

Professional Homepage Roeland van der Marel

About me: STScI profile, Linkedin profile, NL Embassy profile, WikiPedia profile, Biography, Personal Homepage
Resesarch: News, Highlights, Papers, Awards, Videos, Audio
Telescopes: Hubble, Webb, Roman, Gaia



Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope

Some of the world's most powerful telescopes are in space. I lead the work at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore on the Science Operations Center for a new NASA space telescope that will provide images as sharp as the Hubble Space Telescope, but over a hundred times larger area. This space observatory, the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, formerly called the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), is in the design phase for launch in the mid-2020s.

The telescope will uncover the 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.


HSTPROMO: The High-Resolution Space Telescope Proper Motion Collaboration

I coordinate the HSTPROMO collaboration, and lead several of its projects. The collaboration consists of a set of related projects with various high-resolution space telescopes (Hubble, Gaia, and other future telescopes) 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:

our 2019 improved measurements with Gaia, or my team's 2014 Hubble Space Telescope results on the rotation of the Large Magellanic Cloud

James Webb Space Telescope

James Webb Space Telescope Telescope Scientist Team

I am the Administrative PI of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Telescope Scientist Team. 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. Our team will obtain observations in the subject areas of exoplanet transit spectroscopy and coronagraphic imaging, as well as Local Group Science.

The specific investigations that I lead 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.

Black Holes: Gravity's
Relentless Pull

Black Holes: Gravity's Relentless Pull

Learn about the fascinating properties of Black Holes on this web site created by my team. 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.


Leiden Observatory I was born in the Netherlands. I acquired a love for science at an early age and turned my curiosity into the nature of the Universe into my profession.

I obtained M.Sc. degrees in astronomy and mathematics at Leiden University, and subsequently a PhD degree in astronomy for a thesis entitled Velocity Profiles and Dynamical Modeling of Galaxies .

NASA then awarded me a Hubble Fellowship to come to the United States to continue my research, where I worked for three years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. There I became a frequent user of the Hubble Space Telescope.

I then moved to the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore as the Institute Fellow (later renamed Giacconi Fellowship).

I stayed at STScI, where I am now a tenured Astronomer on the scientific staff. I am also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the nearby Johns Hopkins University.

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.

From 2006-2014, I led the team at STScI responsible for issues related to the telescope optics, focus, and guiding on the James Webb Space Telescope.

Since 2014, I have been the Head of the Science Operations Center for the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. As a member of the Leadership Team of the STScI Organization, I also participate in setting the overall direction for the work of the approximately 750 people at STScI on multiple NASA space astronomy missions.

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 more than 18,000 times. My research and the images that I have obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope have been discussed on television and radio, and in newspapers, magazines and museum exhibits around the world.

I have supervised or co-supervised the research of many graduate students and post-doctoral researchers.

I am a member of the International Astronomical Union, the American Astronomical Society, the European Astronomical Society, and the Dutch Astronomers Club.

I have various hobbies and interests, as discussed on my Personal Homepage.

LMC on front cover of AJ

Research Papers, Presentations, Projects

Pirelli Award Ceremony Photo

Selected Awards & Honors

NGC 6240 image

Research Highlights and Media Reports

Selected Highlights:
M31 Press Release Video Clips:
HST image of NGC 7052

Audio segments:

Selected Popular Articles authored:

General Astronomy Internet Resources:

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 26, 2023.
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.
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