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Hello, שלום, hallo, hola, ٱلسَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْ! ;-)

My name is Tomer Shenar - an assistant professor at the University of Tel Aviv, Israel.

Looking for a MSc/PhD/postdoc in astrophysics? Join our group!

My research focuses on massive stars. Today, we know that the vast majority of massive stars interact with companion stars during their lifetime: My research is dedicated to study this interaction and its implication on stellar evolution. 

I collect and use multi-wavelength spectroscopic, photometric, and interferometric data with the world's largest telescopes to infer the  observational properties of massive stars and binaries in the Local Group. I develop and utilise state-of-the-art model atmospheres and spectral disentangling algorithms to derive robust constraints on the progenitors of compact objects (Wolf-Rayet stars, OB-type stars, stripped stars), with the goal of advancing our understanding of the evolution of massive stars and binaries and the production of gravitational-wave sources. I am a co-developer of the Potsdam Wolf-Rayet (PoWR) code.

I am a consortium member of 4MOST, MSE. and E-ELT's MOSAIC, and the PI of the Binarity at LOw Metallicity (BLOeM) ESO Large Programme.

  • Jan. 2024: assistant professor, University of Tel Aviv, Israel

  • 2023 - 2024: group leader, Programa de Atracción de Talento, CAB, Madrid, Spain

  • 2021 - 2023: Marie-Curie fellow, Uni. Amsterdam, NL

  • 2018 - 2021: postdoc, KU Leuven, Belgium

  • 2017-2018: postdoc, Uni. Potsdam, Germany

  • 2013-2017; PhD (summa cum laude), Uni. Potsdam, Germany

  • 2011-2013; MSc in Physics, Uni. Potsdam, Germany

  • 2007-2010: BSc in Mathematics & physics, Technion, Israel

Old Books


158 publications, 91 refereed, of which 16 first-author, h-index 30

Research highlights:

Screenshot 2022-07-21 at 14.46_edited.jpg


stellar astrophysicist

Assistant professor, Tel Aviv University

An artist's impression of VFTS 243, the first unambiguous dormant stellar-mass black hole detected outside our Galaxy

Shenar et al. 2022, Nature Astronomy

Image credit: ESO/L. Calçada

(taken from an article in "The Guardian")

Marble Surface

MSc: Roey Ovadia
Tel Aviv University, Israel

Roey will focus on the multiplicity of massive stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud using FLAMES/VLT data acquired within the BLOeM survey.

Stay tuned!


MSc: Tom Sayada
Tel Aviv University, Israel

Tom will study the multiplicity of massive stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud using FLAMES/VLT data acquired within the BLOeM survey.

Stay tuned!


BSc: Shachar Strenberg
Tel Aviv University, Israel

Shachar will use new data acquired with UVES/VLT to obtained a revised orbital solution for the OB+BH system VFTS 243

Stay tuned!

Current BSc, MSc & PhD students & postdocs

Marble Surface

Past PhD & MSc students, postdocs


PhD: Karan Dsilva

KU Leuven, BE

Karan takes a modern look at the Galactic Wolf-Rayet stars and tries to understand how they evolved.


WC binaries:

Dsilva, Shenar et al. 2020, A&A, 641, 26

WN binaries:

Dsilva, Shenar et al. 2022, A&A, 664, 93

Dsilva, Shenar et al. 2023, A&A, in press

Karan is now a postdoc in the Gaia team at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium


PhD: Julila Bodensteiner

KU Leuven, BE

Julia searches for post-interaction binaries in clusters.


Julia finds a clear excess of Be stars in evolved clusters. Together with Julia, we also found some very cool Be stars (confused as black holes) hiding not far away from us!

Bodensteiner, Shenar+ 2020a

Bodensteiner, Shenar+ 2020b

Shenar, Bodensteiner+ 2020


Julia is now an independent ESO fellow at ESO@Garching


MSc + PhD: Soetkin Janssens

KU Leuven, BE 

Soetkin analysed a highly complex Wolf-Rayet "binary" in the Large Magellanic Cloud.  "Binary", because she found it's a quadruple or quintuple system, hosting one of the most massive contact systems known

Jannsens, Shenar et al. 2020, A&A, 646, 33

Soetkin now continues her PhD under my co-supervision with the goal of hunting for black holes with Gaia -- check out her 1st PhD paper: Janssens, Shenar et al. 2022, A&A, 658, 129

Janssens, Shenar et al. 2023, A&A, in press


Screenshot 2021-06-15 at 18.25.20 1.png

MSc: Roel Lefever
KU Leuven, BE

The majority of Wolf-Rayet analyses assume a fixed wind velocity law. Roel performed a quantitative investigation of alternative velocity laws and their impact on the spectral appearance of Wolf-Rayet stars and their inferred stellar parameters, with important implications on the properties of black-hole progenitors. 

Levefer, Sander, Shenar et al., MNRAS, 521, 1374

Roel is now a PhD student with Andreas Sander in Heidelberg, Germany


MSc: Sancho Luijten

University of Amstedam, NL

Sancho will be analysing multi-epoch data acquired with the UVES@ESO spectrograph (PI: Shenar), targeting two very unique WR binaries. These binaries were proposed to host not one, but two Wolf-Rayet stars, and hence potentially correspond to a rare evolutionary phase prior to black-hole + black-hole binary formation. His thesis is available here.

Sancho is a PhD candidate in Barak Zackay's group at the Weizmann Institute 

MSc: Ardra Ramachandran

University of Amstedam, NL

Ardra was selected through a competitive process to participate in the ASPIRE summerschool at the Uni. Amsterdam. Her goal? Re-deriving the orbital solution a famous "dormant" black hole in our Galaxy, MWC 656.

Guess what? She found that the unseen companion weighs between 0.7-3 Msun, and hence very unlikely to be a black hole.

Ardra is a PhD student at the University of Warwick, UK

MSc: Freek Temming
University of Amsterdam, NL

Freek will be working on new data acquired with the X-SHOOTER instrument @ VLT to establish the binary properties and physical properties of the WC population.


Freek found that the properties of the LMC WC stars are comparable to the Galactic ones, as shown in his thesis, soon to be submitted as a peer-reviewed paper.

Freek founded the data analysis company Duracode


Postdoc: Marimar Rubio Díez 
El Centro de Astrobiología, Spain

Marimar is working on STIS+COS data obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope to study the physical parameters and winds of the WC population in the Large Magellanic Cloud.  


Stay tuned!

Computer Programming

Tools & codes (click to access)

The PoWR code & grids

Spectral disentangling @github

Screenshot 2022-11-29 at 16.18.29.png
The Stars

Fellowships & third-party funding


Prizes & awards: 

  • Jun. 2021: KU Leuven's Research Council Award 

  • Mar. 2018; Horizon 2020 Seal of excellence

  • Oct. 2017: Carl-Ramsauer award, Berlin Physics society

  • Jan. 2017: graduated summa cum laude

  • Sep. 2016: visit at the MIT, funded by the Chandra visitor program

  • Jul 2014: Physics thesis award, Berlin physical society

  • Jul. 2013: Award for outstanding achievements of international students, DAAD

  • 3-year senior FWO fellowship (PI)

  • 4-yr FWO PhD fellowship (scientific PI and co-supervisor




  • Activities in kindergartens:  Introduction to our solar system 

  • Mentoring of pupils in astronomy-related projects, at the   University of Potsdam, Germany

  • Physics & Maths tutoring of pupils with socially or economically disadvantaged background (Elele center, Berlin)

Why astro


My fascination for the universe has never left me ever since taking part in an astronomical event in the Negev, a desert in the southern region of Israel, at the age of 14. I learned that all these thousands of bright points in the night sky were suns, much like our own, but in different shapes and sizes. That day I realized that my connection with the stars would accompany me for the rest of my life. 

Through my work, I hope to advance our understanding of stars, and inspire young, curious pupils and students to investigate the Universe we live in.


When I'm not doing science, I read, play the guitar & piano, and I love to sing. I play adventure games, dance, or just hang out with my dear ones. More about me over a beer (or two)!

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