Photo of Dr Nikolay Nikolov

Dr Nikolay Nikolov

Senior Research Fellow


Telephone: 01392 726607

Extension: (Streatham) 6607

Visit personal website »

Atmospheric characterisation of transiting exoplanets.
Analysis and interpretation of optical and infrared spectroscopy and photometry from space and ground based telescopes, including the HST, Spitzer and VLT.

Senior Research Fellow, University of Exeter (2018 - present)
Research Fellow, University of Exeter (2012 - 2018)
Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy - Heidelberg (2011 - 2012)

PhD in Astrophysics, Heidelberg University and MPIA-Heidelberg (2007 - 2011)
MSc in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Sofia University (2005 - 2007)
BSc in Physics, Sofia University (2001 - 2005)

Graduate Teaching Assistant
Heidelberg University Observatory (2010)

Teacher of the Year Award
Physics and Astronomy Instructor, American College Arcus (2006 – 2007)

VLT FORS2 Large Program (ESO ID:199.C-0467), 208hr, equivalent to £2.7M.
“From hot gas-giants to cooler rocky exo-Earths: The first large-scale comparative exoplanet atmospheric survey with FORS2”.
HST WFC3 (GO-15469), 10 orbits. “Characterizing a new prototype Saturn-mass exoplanet with the clearest atmosphere yet”.
VLT FORS2 (ESO ID: 296.C-5016), 4hr, equivalent to £54k. “Unveiling the atmospheric composition of a nearby Earth-sized exoplanet”.
VLT FORS2 (ESOID: 096.C-0765), 30hr, equivalent to £405k. “Comparative ground based HST Followup of hazy and cloud-free exoplanet atmospheres”.
ESO2.2 GROND (ESOIDs: 088.A9006 & 090.A-9006), 100hr, equivalent to £64k. “Accurate characterization of HAT-South can- didates and exoplanets”.

HST Treasury Program (GO-14767), 500 orbits, (2016 – ongoing).
HST Large Program (GO-12473), 120 orbits, (2012 – 2016).
HAT-South Survey (2011 – 2013).

Membership to the UK’s ExoMOS initiative for developing an optimised multi-object spectrograph for exoplanet atmospheric characterization (2015 – present)
Referee for the ApJ, AJ, MNRAS and A&A (2013 – present)
Referee for the HST, UK’s PATT and OPTICON programs (2013 – present)
Reviewer for the Bulgarian & Chilean National Science Foundations, BNSF & FONDECYT, respectively (2015 – present)

Total of 8 as a first-author, 1 in Nature, 42 as co-author, 1300 citations, h-index 20, ORCID:0000-0002-6500-3574

• “A precise sodium abundance for a cloud-free exoplanet”, Nikolov, N., et al., 2018, [22 co-authors], Nature, 557, 526.

• “Hubble PanCET: an isothermal day-side atmosphere for the bloated gas-giant HAT-P-32Ab”, Nikolov, N., et al. 2018, [23 co-authors], MNRAS, 2, 1705.

• “VLT FORS2 comparative transmission spectroscopy: detection of Na in the atmosphere of WASP-39b from the ground”, Nikolov, N., et al. 2016, [7 co-authors], ApJ, 832, 191.

• “Radial velocity eclipse mapping of exoplanets”, Nikolov,N. & Sainsbury-Martinez, F. 2015, ApJ, 808, 57.

• “HST hot-Jupiter transmission spectral survey: haze in the atmosphere of WASP-6b”, Nikolov, N., et al. 2015, [17 co-authors], MNRAS, 447, 463.

• “Hubble Space Telescope hot Jupiter transmission spectral survey: a detection of Na and strong optical absorption in HAT-P-1b”, Nikolov, N., et al. [18 co-authors], 2014, MNRAS, 437, 46.

• “Refined physical properties and g’, r’, i’, z’, J, H, K transmission spectrum of WASP-23b from the ground”, Nikolov, N., et al. 2013, [7 co-authors], A&A, 553, 26.

• “WASP-4b transit observations with GROND”, Nikolov,N., et al. 2012, [5 co-authors], A&A, 539, 159.

Co-author on 3 publications in Nature and 1 in Science

• “Helium in the eroding atmosphere of an exoplanet”, Spake, J. J., ... Nikolov, N., [13th] et al., 2018, [23 co-authors], Nature, 557, 68.


• “A stratosphere in an ultra-hot gas giant exoplanet”, Evans, T. M., ... Nikolov, N., [5th] et al., 2017, [27 co-authors], Nature, 548, 58.

• “HAT-P-26b: A Neptune-mass exoplanet with a well-constrained heavy element abundance”, Wakeford, H. R., ... Nikolov, N., [5th] et al. 2017, [16 co-authors], Science, 356, 628.

• “A continuum from clear to cloudy hot-Jupiter exoplanets without primordial water depletion”, Sing, D. K., ... Nikolov, N., [3rd] et al. 2015, [22 co-authors], Nature, 529, 59.