Andras Zsom’s website


Currently I am a DFG fellow in the group of Sara Seager at the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT (the building in my profile picture). I obtained my PhD at the MPIA in Heidelberg, Germany in 2010. I’m Hungarian and I lived in Hungary until 2007 (the end of my university studies).


About me

Email: {last name}

Dept. of EAPS, 54-1726


77 Massachusetts Avenue

Cambridge, MA, USA

Research interests


Exoplanet atmospheres, clouds, habitability, and planet formation.

Most recent: Towards the Minimum Inner Edge Distance of the Habitable Zone, A. Zsom, S. Seager, J. de Wit, 2013 (submitted to the Astrophysical Journal)

An exoplanet is considered habitable, if liquid water (a crucial ingredient for life) exists on its surface, and if the surface temperature and pressure are such that complex organic molecules are stable. These habitability requirements put constraints on the surface climate of super-Earth and Earth-sized exoplanets. The climate is influenced by the separation between the exoplanet and the host star (level of irradiation), and the properties of the atmosphere (greenhouse effect). Observational techniques to date can only constrain the stellar irradiation received by exoplanets, the atmospheres are unknown. Therefore, currently it is not possible to tell whether an exoplanet is habitable.

The goal of this paper is to find the minimum separation between an exoplanet and its host star where the exoplanet could be habitable. We achieve this goal by simulating various atmosphere scenarios and surface climates (e.g., a broad range of surface pressures and relative humidities). We find that an exoplanet could be habitable 0.5 AU from a solar-like star (well within the orbit of Venus), but only if it has the right type of atmosphere. Any exoplanet found beyond the minimum inner edge limit should be considered in follow-up observations aimed to characterize their atmosphere.

Link to other publications