Yapeng Zhang

PhD student in Astrophysics


About me

I am a PhD student at Leiden Observatory, working on characterisations of exoplanet atmospheres under the supervision of Prof. Ignas Snellen. I obtained my Master's degree in Astronomy and Data Science at Leiden University. Prior to that, I studied astronomy at Nanjing University in China. My research interests include various aspects of extra-solar planets and formation of planetary systems, with a particular focus on high-resolution spectroscopy of exoplanet atmospheres.


Research Projects



  • Sep 2019 - Present

    PhD student

    Leiden Observatory

    Characterization of exoplanet atmospheres with high-resolution spectroscopy
    With the rapidly growing number of extra-solar planets detected, we have entered an era of characterizing their physical properties. As exoplanets show immense diversity in their masses, sizes, compositions and orbital configurations, they pose great challenges to planet-formation theories. The characterization of exoplanet atmospheres is essential for investigating these questions because atmospheres provide fossil records of the formation condition and evolution history of planets. One way of characterizing atmospheres is to use high resolution spectroscopy, which resolves the atomic or molecular features into tens or hundreds of individual lines. The Doppler shift of the spectral lines due to the orbital motion of close-in planets or the spatial separation of wide-orbit super-Jupiters can help disentangle the planetary signals from the stationary stellar and telluric lines. This method is sensitive to the depth, shape and position of the lines, therefore can constrain various aspects of atmospheres including chemical composition, thermal structure, clouds and hazes, spin, high-altitude winds and atmospheric escape.

  • Sep 2017 - July 2019

    MSc in Astronomy and Data Science

    Leiden University

    Dust evolution in protoplanetray disks
    Supervised by Prof. Michiel Hogerheijde and Dr. Leon Trapman, we studied the effect of global dust evolution and gap formation on multi-wavelength continuum observations of TW Hydrae. This project involves processing of radio data at multiple wavelengths and modeling of the physical disk, by which we investigated the dust distribution and evolution in the disk.
    Probing exoplanet atmospheres with Integral-Field Spectroscopy
    Supervised by Prof. Ignas Snellen and Dr. Paul Wilson, the project utilised Integral-Field Spectroscopic data for atmospheric characterisation of directly imaged giant exoplanets with large orbital separation, e.g. beta Pictoris b and HR 8799c.

  • Sep 2013 - July 2017

    BSc in Astronomy

    Nanjing University

    Simulations on planet formation in highly inclined binary systems
    Under the supervision of Prof. Jiwei Xie, this project numerically studied the late stage of terrestrial planet formation, i.e., from embryos to full planets, in binary systems of various orbital configurations. An orbital alignment effect and enhancement of planet formation in cases of intermediate binary separations were suggested.


Contact Me




Oort 535, Leiden Observatory, Niels Bohrweg 2, 2333CA Leiden, The Netherlands

Last updated: Nov 2021