Nikku Madhusudhan


Reader in Astrophysics and Exoplanetary Science

Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge

Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HA, UK


Tel: +44 1223 655612, +44 7804 419140

Research Interests

Atmospheres, interiors, and formation mechanisms of extrasolar planets

Radiative transfer, planetary chemistry, and atmospheric retrieval methods for exoplanets

Internal structure modeling of super-Earths, mass-radius relations, and geophysical processes

Constraints on exoplanetary formation mechanisms using their atmospheric chemical abundances

Optimal planning of observations with large facilities to characterize exoplanetary atmospheres

Education: PhD (MIT, USA, 2009), MS (MIT, USA, 2004), B. Tech (IIT-BHU, India, 2002)


Oct 2017 - present   : Reader in Astrophysics and Exoplanetary Science (University of Cambridge, UK)

Nov 2013 - Sep 2017: University Lecturer in Astrophysics (University of Cambridge, UK)                

Jan 2012 - Oct 2013: YCAA Prize Postdoctoral Fellow (Yale University, USA)

Sep 2010 - Dec 2011: Postdoctoral researcher (Princeton University, USA)

Aug 2009 - Aug 2010: Postdoctoral researcher (MIT, USA)

Major Research Results:

The interior and atmosphere of the habitable-zone exoplanet K2-18b

N. Madhusudhan, M. Nixon, L. Welbanks, A. Piette, R. Booth 2020, ApJL, 891L, 7M (press release)

Mass-Metallicity Trends in Exoplanetary Atmospheres

L. Welbanks, N. Madhusudhan, N. Allard, et al. 2019, ApJL, 887L, 20W (press release)

Detections of HCN in exoplanetary atmospheres

S. Cabot, N. Madhusudhan, G. Hawker, S. Gandhi 2019, MNRAS, 482, 4422

G. Hawker, N. Madhusudhan, S. Cabot, S. Gandhi 2018, ApJL, 863, 11

Measurements of H2O in ten hot Jupiters

A. Pinhas, N. Madhusudhan, S. Gandhi, R. Macdonald 2019, MNRAS, 482, 1485

New Self-consistent Models and Retrieval Methods for Exoplanetary Atmospheres

Gandhi & Madhusudhan 2018, MNRAS, 474, 271

Gandhi & Madhusudhan 2017, MNRAS, 472, 2334

Pinhas et al. 2018, MNRAS, 480, 5314

MacDonald & Madhusudhan 2017, MNRAS, 469, 1979

Detection of TiO in an exoplanetary atmosphere

E. Sedaghati, H. Boffin, R. MacDonald, S. Gandhi, N. Madhusudhan, et al., 2017, Nature, 549, 238

First thermal map of a super-Earth

B-O. Demory, M. Gillon, J. de Wit, N. Madhusudhan, et al., 2016, Nature, 532, 207

First spectroscopic inference of a thermal inversion in a hot Jupiter

K. Haynes, A. M. Mandell, N. Madhusudhan, et al., 2015, ApJ, 806, 2, 146

First framework for chemical constraints on hot Jupiter migration

Madhusudhan, Amin, & Kennedy 2014, The Astrophysical Journal, 794, L12

High-precision measurements of H2O in exoplanetary atmospheres

Madhusudhan, Crouzet, McCullough, & Deming 2014, The Astrophysical Journal, 791, L9

Press releases: NASA/Hubble, Univ. Cambridge

First inference of a possible carbon-rich super-Earth

Madhusudhan et al. 2012, The Astrophysical Journal, 759, L40

Press release: Yale Univ.

A two-dimensional classification scheme for exoplanetary atmospheres

Madhusudhan 2012, The Astrophysical Journal, 758,  36

An essay on the article can be read on astrobites

First inference of a carbon-rich planetary atmosphere   

Madhusudhan et al. 2011, Nature, 469, 64

Press releases: MIT, NASA/Spitzer

Carbon-rich giant planets: Atmospheric properties and possible formation scenarios.

Madhusudhan et al. 2011, The Astrophysical Journal, 743, 191

Press articles: TIME and PAW.

First detection of non-equilibrium chemistry and high metallicity in an exoplanetary atmosphere

Stevenson et al. 2010, Nature, 464, 1161; Madhusudhan & Seager, 2011, The Astrophysical J., 729, 41

Press releases: MIT, NASA/Spitzer

First statistical retrieval method for exoplanetary atmospheres

Madhusudhan & Seager, 2009, The Astrophysical Journal, 707, 24

The so-called “Million Model Approach” to atmospheric modeling of exoplanets.

For a full listing of results from my research, please see Research and Publications pages

Recent Awards/Honors:

2019 MERAC Prize in Theoretical Astrophysics, European Astronomical Society

2019 Pilkington Prize for Excellence in Teaching, University of Cambridge

2016 Young Scientist Medal in Astrophysics, International Union for Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP)

2014 Vainu Bappu Gold Medal in Astrophysics, Astronomical Society of India

2011 YCAA Prize Fellowship, Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Yale University, USA