Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy

Photographer: Dirk Gillissen

dr. J.L. (Jayne) Birkby

  • Faculty of Science
    Anton Pannekoek Institute of Astronomy
  • Visiting address
    Science Park A
    Science Park 904  Room number: C4.130
  • Postal address:
    Postbus  94249
    1090 GE  Amsterdam
    T: 0205257366
    T: 0205257491


Jayne Birkby is an Assistant Professor at the University of Amsterdam. She obtained her PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2012, where she studied the fundamental properties of cool stars, and hunted for exoplanets. She spent her first postdoc at Leiden University in the Netherlands characterizing exoplanet atmospheres, before becoming a NASA Sagan Fellow at Harvard University. She moved to the Anton Pannekoek Institute in summer 2017 to begin her professorship, where she and her group are working towards the detection of biosignatures on other worlds with the upcoming extremely large telescopes.

Research and teaching

Jayne uses very high-resolution spectroscopy and the unique spectral fingerprints of different molecules to separate the light of an exoplanet from the glare of its host star. This reveals the planet’s atmospheric composition, its wind patterns, the length of its day, and the presence of stratospheres, akin to our ozone layer. Jayne’s current work focuses on gas and ice giants, surveying their extremely diverse properties to understand how they formed. Ultimately, she aims to use this technique to detect signs of life in nearby rocky worlds. Jayne is an advocate for diversity amongst researchers and helped instigate an international summer research program in astronomy in the Netherlands.


Exoplanet atmospheres, planet formation, biosignatures, cool stars, habitability.


  • Snellen, I. A. G., Désert, J-M., Waters, L. B. F. M., Robinson, T., Meadows, V., van Dishoeck, E. F., ... Brogi, M. (2017). Detecting Proxima b’s Atmosphere with JWST Targeting CO2 at 15 μm Using a High-pass Spectral Filtering Technique. Astronomical Journal, 154(2), 77. DOI: 10.3847/1538-3881/aa7fbc 


  • Cruz, P., Barrado, D., Lillo-Box, J., Diaz, M., López-Morales, M., Birkby, J., ... Hodgkin, S. (2017). Detection of secondary eclipses of WASP-10b and Qatar-1b in the Ks band and the correlation between Ks-band temperature and stellar activity. Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, 328, 363-370. DOI: 10.1017/S1743921317003660 
  • Cruz, P., Diaz, M., Barrado, D., & Birkby, J. (2017). Low-mass eclipsing binaries in the WFCAM Transit Survey. Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, 328, 124-126. DOI: 10.1017/S1743921317003659 
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