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School of Physical and Chemical Sciences

Dr Edward Gillen


Winton Fellow & Lecturer in Observations of Exoplanets

Telephone: 020 7882 5898
Room Number: G.O. Jones Building, Room 507


I am a Lecturer and Winton Fellow at Queen Mary University of London. My research focuses on understanding the evolution, diversity and habitability of planetary systems, which I pursue using a variety of ground- and space-based observatories.

I completed my PhD at the University of Oxford in 2015, where I worked on young eclipsing binary stars and their environments in open clusters. Following my PhD, I moved into exoplanet research and took up a postdoctoral position in exoplanets at the University of Cambridge. In 2018, I was awarded a Winton Exoplanet Fellowship, which I also held at Cambridge. I moved to QMUL in May 2020 to join the Astronomy Unit as a lecturer.

I am a consortium member of the Next Generation Transit Survey (NGTS).


I am the Deputy Module Organiser (DMO) for the masters level course Solar System (SPA7022U/P) and the Module Associate (MA) for the first year undergraduate course Our Universe (SPA4101). 

I also supervise undergraduate project students on the SPA6776 course (physics research project).


Research Interests:

My primary research interests focus on understanding the evolution, diversity and habitability of planetary systems. Within these overarching themes, some areas of particular interest include:

  • Characterising transiting exoplanet systems at different ages throughout their lifetime. Young planets (i.e. those less than around a billion years old) are especially interesting, as they offer direct observational link between our theories of planet formation and the currently known, old, exoplanet population.
  • Observationally calibrating stellar (and hence planetary) evolution theory using various complementary approaches:
    • Characterising eclipsing binary stars, for which the stellar masses, radii and temperatures can be directly measured.
    • Characterising stellar rotation and flare activity, which offer insight into the age-activity-rotation relation.
    • Studying the star-disk interaction, which provides a window onto the final stages of star formation and the inner regions of protoplanetary disks.
  • Assessing the potential habitability of exoplanet systems by characterising the high energy activity of low-mass stars.

Examples of research funding:

I am currently supported by a Winton Exoplanet Fellowship.


My full publication list is available through the ADS, which can be viewed here.

  1. E. Bryant, D. Bayliss, L. Nielsen et al. (2020, MNRAS, 499, 3139). NGTS-12b: A sub-Saturn mass transiting exoplanet in a 7.53 day orbit. DOI: 10.1093/mnras/staa2976
  2. J. Acton, M. Goad, S. Casewell et al. (2020, MNRAS, 498, 3115). An eclipsing M-dwarf close to the hydrogen burning limit from NGTS. DOI: 10.1093/mnras/staa2513
  3. F. Lienhard, D. Queloz, M. Gillon et al. (2020, MNRAS, 497, 3790). Global analysis of the TRAPPIST Ultra-Cool Dwarf Transit Survey. DOI:  10.1093/mnras/staa2054
  4. J. Jackman, P. J. Wheatley, J. Acton et al. (2020, MNRAS, 497, 809). NGTS clusters survey - II. White-light flares from the youngest stars in Orion. DOI:  10.1093/mnras/staa1971
  5. S. Gill, P. J. Wheatley, B. F. Cooke et al. (2020, ApJL, 898, 11). NGTS-11 b / TOI-1847 b: A transiting warm Saturn recovered from a TESS single-transit event. DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ab9eb9
  6. J. Jenkins, M. Díaz, N. Kurtovic et al. (2020, Nature Astronomy, 4, 1148). TESS Discovery of an Ultra-Hot Neptune. DOI: 10.1038/s41550-020-1142-z
  7. E. Gillen, L. A. Hillenbrand, J. Stauffer et al. (2020, MNRAS, 495, 1531). Mon-735: A new low-mass pre-main sequence eclipsing binary in NGC2264. DOI:
  8. J. McCormac, E. Gillen, J. Jackman et al. (2020, MNRAS, 493, 126). NGTS-10b: The shortest period hot Jupiter yet discovered. DOI:
  9. E. Gillen, J. T. Briegal, S. T. Hodgkin et al. (2020, MNRAS, 492, 1008). NGTS clusters survey. I. Rotation in the young benchmark open cluster Blanco 1. DOI:
  10. M. Lendl, F. Bouchy, S. Gill et al. (2020, MNRAS, 492, 1761). TOI-222: a single-transit TESS candidate revealed to be a 34-day eclipsing binary with CORALIE, EulerCam and NGTS. DOI:
  11. M. Gunther, Z. Zhan, S. Seager et al. (2020, AJ, 159, 60). Stellar Flares from the First Tess Data Release: Exploring a New Sample of M-dwarfs. DOI:
  12. E. Gillen, P. B. Rimmer & D. C. Catling (2020, Icarus, 336, 13407). Statistical analysis of Curiosity data shows no evidence for a strong seasonal cycle of Martian methane. DOI:
  13. J. Costes, C. A. Watson, C. Belardi et al. (2020, MNRAS, 491, 2834). NGTS-8b and NGTS-9b: two non-in ated hot-Jupiters. DOI:
  14. J. Jackman, P. J. Wheatley, D. Bayliss et al. (2019, MNRAS, 489, 5146). NGTS-7Ab: An ultra-short period brown dwarf transiting a tidally-locked and active M dwarf. DOI:
  15. J. I. Vines; J. S. Jenkins; J. Acton et al. (2019, MNRAS, 489, 4125). NGTS-6b: An Ultra Hot-Jupiter Orbiting a Metal-rich star. DOI:
  16. R. G. West, E. Gillen, D. Bayliss et al. (2019, MNRAS, 486, 5094). NGTS-4b: A sub-Neptune transiting in the desert. DOI:
  17. P. Eigmuller, A. Chausev, E. Gillen et al. (2019, A&A, 625, 142). NGTS-5b: a highly in ated planet offering insights into the sub-Jovian desert. DOI:
  18. J. Jackman, P. J. Wheatley, C. Pugh et al. (2019, MNRAS, 482, 5553). Detection of a giant are displaying quasi-periodic pulsations from a pre-main-sequence M star by the Next Generation Transit Survey. DOI:
  19. T. J. David, L. A. Hillenbrand, E. Gillen et al. (2019, ApJ, 872, 161). Age Determination in Upper Scorpius with Eclipsing Binaries. DOI:
  20. L. Raynard, M. Goad, E. Gillen et al. (2018, MNRAS, 481, 4960). NGTS-2b: an in ated hot-Jupiter transiting a bright F-dwarf. DOI:
  21. S. L. Casewell, L. Raynard. C. A. Watson, E. Gillen et al. (2018, MNRAS, 481, 1897). A low-mass eclipsing binary within the fully convective zone from the Next Generation Transit Survey. DOI:
  22. P. Rimmer, J. Xu, S. J. Thompson, E. Gillen et al. (2018, Sci Adv, 4, 3302) The Origin of RNA Precursors on Exoplanets. DOI:
  23. M. Gunther, D. Queloz, E. Gillen et al. (2018, MNRAS, 478, 4720). Unmasking the hidden NGTS-3Ab: a hot Jupiter in an unresolved binary system. DOI:
  24. D. J. Armstrong, M. Gunther, J. McCormac et al. (2018, MNRAS, 478, 4225). Automatic vetting of planet candidates from ground-based surveys: machine learning with NGTS. DOI:
  25. J. Jackman, P. J. Wheatley, C. Pugh, B. Gansicke, E. Gillen et al. (2018, MNRAS, 477, 4655). Ground-based detection of G star super ares with NGTS. DOI:
  26. P. J. Wheatley, R. G. West, M. R. Goad et al. (2018, MNRAS, 475, 4476). The Next Generation Transit Survey (NGTS). DOI:
  27. D. Bayliss, E. Gillen, P. Eigmuller et al. (2018, MNRAS, 475, 4467). NGTS-1b: A hot jupiter transiting an M-dwarf. DOI: 
  28. E. Gillen, L. A. Hillenbrand, T. J. David et al. (2017, ApJ, 849, 11). New low-mass eclipsing binary systems in Praesepe discovered by K2. DOI:
  29. M. Gunther, D. Queloz, E. Gillen et al. (2017, MNRAS, 472, 295). Centroid vetting of transiting planet candidates from the Next Generation Transit Survey. DOI:
  30. J. Pepper, E. Gillen, H. Parviainen et al. (2017, AJ, 153, 177). A Low-Mass Exoplanet Candidate Detected By K2 Transiting the Praesepe M Dwarf JS 183. DOI:
  31. E. Gillen, S. Aigrain, C. Terquem et al. (2017, A&A, 599, 27). CoRoT 223992193: Investigating the variability in a low-mass, pre-main sequence eclipsing binary with evidence of a circumbinary disk. DOI:
  32. L. M. Rebull, J. R. Stauffer, J. Bouvier et al. (2016, AJ, 152, 113). Rotation in the Pleiades with K2. II. Multiperiod Stars. DOI:
  33. L. M. Rebull, J. R. Stauffer, J. Bouvier et al. (2016, AJ, 152, 113). Rotation in the Pleiades with K2. I. Data and First Results. DOI:
  34. B. O. Demory, D. Queloz, Y. Alibert, E. Gillen & M. Gillon. (2016, ApJ, 825, 25). Probing TRAPPIST-1-like Systems with K2. DOI:
  35. J. Stauffer, A. Cody, L. Rebull et al. (2016, AJ, 151, 60). CSI 2264: Characterizing Young Stars in NGC 2264 with Stochastically Varying Light Curves. DOI:
  36. T. J. David, J. Stauffer, L. A. Hillenbrand et al. (2015, ApJ, 814, 62). HII 2407: An Eclipsing Binary Revealed By K2 Observations of the Pleiades. DOI:
  37. M. E. Lohr, A. J. Norton, E. Gillen et al. (2015, A&A, 578, 103). The doubly-eclipsing quintuple low-mass star system 1SWASP J093010.78+533859.5. DOI:
  38. J. Stauffer, A. Cody, P. McGinnis et al. (2015, AJ, 149, 130). CSI 2264: Characterising young stars in NGC2264 with short-duration, periodic dips in their light curves. DOI:
  39. E. Gillen, S. Aigrain, A. McQuillan et al. (2014, A&A, 562, A50). CoRoT 223992193: A new, low-mass, pre-main sequence eclipsing binary with evidence of a circumb.nary disk. DOI:
  40. A. Cody, J. Stauffer, A. Baglin et al. (2014, AJ, 147, 82). CSI 2264: Simultaneous Optical and Infrared Light Curves of Young Disk-bearing Stars in NGC 2264 with CoRoT and Spitzer - Evidence for Multiple Origins of Variability. DOI:


This is not an exhaustive list and I would be happy to discuss other project possibilities.


Understanding the early evolution of stellar and planetary systems

Young open clusters are groups of hundreds-to-thousands of stars that formed in the same birth environment and hence share a common age, composition and location. The shared properties of these stars make them powerful astrophysical laboratories to probe the early evolution of both stars and the planetary systems they host. For example, the size, temperature and internal structure of stars, along with their rotation rates and activity levels, change dramatically during their early stages of life. Likewise, planets evolve most significantly during their first billion years: after forming within the protoplanetary disc of gas and dust that surrounds young stars, young planets cool and contract, with some migrating in towards their host star where they are subject to strong tidal forces and stellar irradiation. By studying young stars and planets in open clusters across a range of ages, we can probe all of these phenomena and observationally constrain how stellar and planetary systems evolve.

The Next Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) is a state-of-the-art photometric facility based at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile, which comprises 12 independent robotic telescopes. NGTS is conducting a systematic survey of young open clusters with ages between 1 Myr – 2 Gyr (i.e. 1 million – 2 billion years old), which is being led by Dr Gillen in collaboration with an international team of researchers (the NGTS consortium). Ten young open clusters have been observed to date with more planned over the next years.

This PhD project will contribute to the scientific exploitation of the NGTS clusters survey. With a wealth of observational data on young stars, there is a lot of flexibility in the science that can be done in this project. Some potential avenues that can be explored are:

  • Studying the angular momentum evolution of young stars by measuring their rotation periods across a range of ages.
  • Constraining the structural evolution of young stars by characterising young eclipsing binary (EB) stars in these open clusters.
  • Probing the activity levels of young stars by characterizing stellar flares, which have an impact on the potential habitability of orbiting planets.
  • Probing the interaction between young stars and their protoplanetary discs (the sites of planet formation), which is modulated by the star’s magnetic field.
  • Detecting and characterising young transiting planets in these open clusters.

I would be happy to discuss any of these topics, as well as explore other project possibilities.


Useful links on NGTS and the NGTS clusters survey:


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