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My name is Tomer Shenar, born in 1986 in Israel. 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

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

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

2013-2017; PhD, Uni. Potsdam, Germany

2017-2018: Postdoc, Uni. Potsdam, Germany

2018 - 2021: Postdoc, KU Leuven, Belgium

2021 - now: Marie-Curie fellow, Uni. Amsterdam, NL

2021 - now (suspended): FWO postdoc fellow, KU Leuven, Belgium

2023 - 2028 (suspended): group leader, Programa de Atracción de Talento, CAB, Madrid, Spain

Old Books


132 publications, 76 refereed, of which 16 first-author, h-index 27

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stellar astrophysicist

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")

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PhD & MSc students


PhD: Karan Dsilva

KU Leuven

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 at the ULB


PhD: Julila Bodensteiner

KU Leuven

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 ESO fellow at ESO@Garching


MSc + PhD: Soetkin Janssens

KU Leuven 

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


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MSc: Roel Lefever
KU Leuven

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. Check out his publication, coming soon:

Levefer, Sander, Shenar et al., A&A, in press

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


MSc: Sancho Luijten

University of Amstedam

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. 

Sancho is a now software dev engineer at Amazon Music

MSc: Ardra Ramachandran

University of Amstedam

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

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.


Stay tuned!

Computer Programming

Tools & codes (click to access)

The PoWR code & grids

Spectral disentangling @github

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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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