Young Stars @ The Niels Bohr Institute

Observing the origin of stars and planets

Jes Jørgensen's group

Using astronomical observations and sophisticated models we study how stars and planets are formed, what physics and chemistry occur during the early evolution of young stars and what the potentially determines whether Earth-like planets with life may be present elsewhere. The research is funded by the European Research Council (ERC).

Setting the Stage for solar system formation

A short description of what our research is all about

Formation of protostars and disks

Our research focuses on the formation and early evolution of young protostars and their protoplanetary disks. It is still unclear how circumstellar disks form around such stars, how they grow in size and how rapidly material is assembled in the disk and/or accreted onto the central star.

Physics and chemistry of young stars

The interplay between the physics and chemistry occurring during star and planet formation is characterised in strong variations in densities and temperatures in the gas and dust assembling to young stars. These variations are strongly reflected in the chemistry of the gas and the icy surfaces of the dust grains and sets the initial conditions for subsequent planet formation.

Complex chemistry & building blocks for life

The regions close to young stars show a rich chemistry with abundant complex organic molecules. Some of these molecules may eventually form the building blocks for life. By observing the composition of this molecular gas and comparing to experiments in laboratories on Earth we can address whether any of these molecules can be carried on to newly formed planets.

Long wavelength observations

Studies of the young stars strongly rely on observations at infrared and submillimeter wavelengths. Cold dust and molecules emit strongly at those long wavelengths. Also, they are the only place where we peek through dusty clouds and observe the formation of the protostars and their disks themselves.

Atacama Large Millimeter Array

A key facility for understanding the early stages of young stars is the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA): ALMA is a large interferometer collecting radiation from 66 independent radio telescopes allowing astronomers to zoom-in on young stars and their disks scales corresponding to those of our own Solar System in nearby star forming regions.

Detailed models

The detailed observations offered by, e.g.. ALMA put quantitative constraints on theories for the physical and chemical evolution of protostars. To interpret those observations we utilise sophisticated models to describe in detail how material is assembled in protostars and disks and how molecules are formed and destroyed during this process.

Want to get know us better?

Here you can read more about the members of our group

Dr. Jes Kristian Jørgensen, associate professor

Jes Jørgensen is the leader of the Young Stars group in the Astrophysics and Planetary Science section of the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen. Jes' group is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and forms part of Centre for Star and Planet Formation funded by the Danish National Research Foundation.

Since 2010 Jes has held a position as associate professor at University of Copenhagen, initially at the Natural History Museum of Denmark and later at the Niels Bohr Institute. In October 2013 Jes was tenured.

Jes did his studies at University of Copenhagen where he got his M.Sc. degree in astronomy in 2000. He continued as a Ph.D. student at Leiden Observatory at Leiden University where he defended his Ph.D. thesis "Tracing the Evolution of Low-Mass Protostars" in 2004. Subsequently he was employed as post doctoral fellow at Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and staff scientist at Argelander Institute for Astronomy at University of Bonn, before returning to Copenhagen in 2010.

During his career Jes has published 180+ papers in international refereed journals amassing more than 8500 citations. In 2010 he earned a Lundbeck Junior Group Leader Fellowship worth 10 MDKK and in 2015 a Consolidator Grant (2 MEuros) from the European Research Council (ERC). Jes was awarded the Silver Medal of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters handed out once a year (alternating between social and natural sciences) to a young researcher for particularly impressive scientific contributions.

For further information see:

The Young Stars group

Hover over the photos for each group member for a brief introduction - or click on the link icon to access their University of Copenhagen profile.
Former group members:

Ongoing Projects

We are involved in a number of ongoing research projects. Read more about those here.

Protostellar Interferometric Line Survey

The ALMA Protostellar Interferometric Line Survey (PILS) is a project to survey the molecular complexity of protostars through high angular resolution and high sensitive observations with ALMA. The project is led by Jes Jørgensen and has a separate website where you read more about the project and its results.

Adaptable Radiative Transfer Innovations for Submillimeter Telescopes

The ARTIST program was funded with the European Astronet framework by the German, Spanish and Dutch funding agencies led by Jes Jørgensen. The aim of the project was to develop a toolbox for radiative transfer analysis for interpretation of data from submillimeter telescopes. The project is now completed but you can read more about it here.

The Submillimeter Array IRAS 16293-2422 survey

In the early days of the Submillimeter Array (SMA) we carried out an extensive survey of the IRAS 16293-2422 protostellar binary. A large overview of the survey was published by Jørgensen et al. 2011 and you can download data from the survey here.

Prospective Students

Iterested in joining the group to do an M.Sc. or B.Sc. project?


We offer a number of projects for M.Sc. and B.Sc. students at University of Copenhagen. If you are interested, feel free to send one of us an E-mail or stop by. Some examples of recent research projects are listed below.

Example project: Dissecting an embedded young star

With the advent of ALMA and other large facilities we are building-up large sets of constraints on the structure of young protostellar system. These datasets can be used for example to explore the physics (temperature, density), kinematics (rotation, infall) and chemical composition (gas and ices) toward such sources. However, to obtain quantitative constraints, one needs to couple the observations to detailed dust and line radiative transfer models that we have in the group. In the project, the student will model the structure of a protostellar binary system that we have recently observed with ALMA and which has also previously been observed by, e.g., the Spitzer Space Telescope and Herschel Space Observatory. The aim is to build as complete a picture of this protostellar system as possible - and use these constraints to dissect its physical and chemical structure and evolutionary history by comparison to simulations. In a longer perspective such models could be generalised to make more statistical statements about protostars and will also serve as an important pathfinder for near-future observations with the James Webb Space Telescope.

Example project: How to launch a protostellar outflow

Recent ALMA observations shows how a protostellar outflow is launched from the surface of a protoplanetary disk. These observations place new strong constraints on theoretical models and helps pushing those in new directions. This project will be done as a collaboration between the modelers and observers at StarPlan in trying to take existing simulations of such a protosplanetary disk-outflow system, perform line radiative transfer calculations to generate synthetic observations and compare those to the ALMA data. In this way the aim is to identify the key parameters determining, e.g., the launch speed of the outflow and its extent and also investigate similarities and differences between different physical structures.

Latest News from the group

Here you can read about the latest news and results from our group

July 2, 2018

Congratulations Dr. Jacobsen!

Steffen Jacobsen today successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis "3D Radiative Transfer Modeling of Embedded Protostellar Regions ". Congratulations to Steffen and good luck for the future!


October 2, 2017

PILS and ROSINA discovery of Freon-40

In a paper published in Nature Astronomy we report the discovery of CH3Cl, methyl chloride also known as Freon-40, toward a protostar and comet 67P. The results were obtained as part of our ALMA-PILS survey combined with data from the ROSINA instrument on the Rosetta mission. The molecule had previously been suggested to be useful as a bio-marker, but our results indicate that that might not be possible. However, the simultaneous detections by ALMA and ROSINA strengthens the link between the chemistry in distant protostars and comets in our own Solar System.

September 13, 2017

Giulia Perotti defends her M.Sc. thesis

Giulia Perotti today succesfully defended her M.Sc. thesis "Modelling the CO chemistry of star-forming regions - A simple path to complex organic molecules " with top marks. Congratulations to Giulia on a very nice piece of work!

June 8, 2017

Ingredient of life discovered in PILS survey.

In our PILS survey we have found traces of methyl isocyanate — a chemical building block of life - around a young star. This is the first ever detection of this prebiotic molecule towards solar-type protostars, the sort from which our Solar System evolved. The discovery could help shed further light on how life arose on Earth.

May 2, 2017

Workshop announcement

Our group is hosting a focused workshop on "Nitrogen Fractionation in Space" on November 8-9th 2017 at Centre for Star and Planet Formation and the Niels Bohr Institute. The workshop is organised by Charlotte Vastel (IRAP Toulouse) and Jes Jørgensen within the framework of EU/COST action CM 1401 "Our Astrochemical Heritage".

April 20, 2017

ALMA proposal deadline frenzy

April 20th marked the deadline for proposals for Cycle 5 of the ALMA observatory. Our group participated actively in this call with more than thirty proposals submitted by group-members as PI's or co-I's.

Keeping up with "tradition" we also tracked the evolution of proposal numbers as time progressed up to the deadline on social media. The plot below shows the evolution of the proposal numbers up to the deadline (see also linked Facebook post).


March 1, 2017

Welcome to Sébastien Manigand

Sébastien Manigand just joined our group as a Ph.D. student. Sébastien did his M.Sc. at IPAG in Grenoble and will work on data from the PILS survey.

December 14, 2016

Newly formed stars shoot out powerful whirlwinds

Researchers from our group have used the ALMA telescopes to observe the early stages in the formation of a new solar system. For the first time they have seen how a powerful whirlwind shoot out from a young newly formed star. The results have been published in Nature.

November 5, 2016

Overview of the ALMA-PILS survey published

A paper presenting overview and first results from the ALMA-PILS survey has been published in Astronomy and Astrophysics. Amongst its findings, the paper reports the first detection of deuterated and 13C isotopologues of the prebiotic molecule, glycolaldehyde, in the ISM. The results have important implications concerning the formation of such species at low temperatures in the icy mantles on interstellar dust grains.

October 11, 2016

Chaos in cosmos: Stars with three planet-forming discs of gas

Using ALMA a group of researchers led by Christian Brinch (former post doc in our group) and Jes Jørgensen have discovered a system consisting of two stars with three rotating, and mis-aligned, planet-forming accretion discs around them.


Feel Free to Contact Us

Below you can find the contact information for Jes Jørgensen

Centre for Star and Planet Formation
& Niels Bohr Institute
Øster Voldgade 5-7
DK-1350 Copenhagen K.

+45 3532 4186