Gesa H.-M. Bertrang


Personal Details

I investigate the underlying physics by combining theory and observations!

I am an astronomer and currently FONDECYT Fellow affiliated to Universidad de Chile in Santiago, Chile.
I am interested in polarimetry as a powerful tool to probe protoplanetary disks and low-mass star-forming regions. In my free time, I am exploring the vast beauty of Chile.
On the following pages, I prepared an overview for you about myself and my research. Enjoy!


Aiming at understanding the formation of low-mass stars and planets, with a focus on the role of magnetic fields, I apply 3D radiative transfer simulations to combine theory and observations. My work is carried out in the optical, near-infrared, and (sub-)millimeter wavelength ranges.


Santiago, Chile
info (standard email sign)
skype: gesa.bertrang


I grew up in Kiel, in northern Germany, where I later studied and obtained my doctorate. I was a post-doctoral fellow in the Millenium ALMA disk nucleus at Univ. de Chile and Univ. Diego Portales before being awarded a FONDECYT fellowship at Univ. de Chile. I now work on Cerro Calan in Santiago.


My academic career


april 2011 -
september 2015
Kiel University
PhD student
Advisor: Sebastian Wolf

PhD (Dr. rer. nat.) on "Observations and simulations of polarized radiation as tracer of magnetic fields in star formation"...

october 2005 -
november 2010
Kiel University
Student (Dipl.-Phys.)
Advisor: Sebastian Wolf

Diploma in physics (Dipl.-Phys.) Thesis title: "Magnetic fields in star formation"...

Work experience

march 2017 - present
Universidad de Chile
Advisor: Simon Casassus

Grant from the Chilean government to carry out independent research, hosted at Universidad de Chile (w Simon Casassus)....

october 2015 -
march 2017
U de Chile & U Diego Portales
MAD Fellow
Advisors: Simon Casassus & Lucas Cieza

Grant to carry out independent research within the Millenium ALMA Disk nucleus (MAD), hosted at Universidad de Chile (w Simon Casassus) and Universidad Diego Portales (w Lucas Cieza)....

full CV


What I do

As planets form and grow in dusty, gaseous circumstellar disks, mutual gravitational interactions between disk and planet lead to a series of phenomena such as gaps, warps, or spiral arms. I make use of multi-wavelength observations performed with VLT/SPHERE and ALMA  in combinations with radiative transfer simulations to  test for signals of this interaction. Other co-authors are Simon Casassus, Lucas Cieza, and Henning Avenhaus.
I developed a 3D radiative transfer codes which is able to simulate the polarized continuum radiation of aligned non-spherical dust grains by extending the 3D radiative transfer code MC3D in the context of my PhD thesis supervised by Sebastian Wolf. Other co-authors are Mario Flock and Jan Philipp Ruge.
The influence of magnetic fields in protoplanetary disks is described theoretically. However, the magnetic field properties, the field strength and structure, are still  unconstrained. Models of the polarized dust emission in these disks, combined with observations and 3D magneto-hydrodynamic simulations, may illuminate these constrains.
I am leading an ongoing multi-wavelength study of magnetic fields in low-mass star-forming regions, so-called Bok globules in collaboration with Sebastian Wolf and Himadri S. Das.
Magnetic fields in Bok globules are very exciting since they may be the missing mechanism in the understanding of low-mass star formation. Without this additional influence, theory overpredicts the star formation rate (SFR) by two orders of magnitude.
I am supervising the undergrad-research program of Sebastián Jorquera (U de Chile) who is working with me on magnetic fields in Bok globules. Further, I am experienced as teaching assistant of several courses on undergrad level at Kiel University (Physics IV: nuclear physics, particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology; Elementary mathematical methods in physics I & II).


Get in touch with me

Get in touch

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My address

gesa.bertrang (skype)

Departamento de Astronomia
Universidad de Chile
Camino El Observatorio #1515,
Las Condes, Santiago, Chile.