Hello, I’m Rafa!

I work at the University of Chicago, doing research about exoplanets. To discover new planets across the Galaxy, I love observing all types of stars using a variety of telescopes, both in space (like JWST, TESS or Kepler) and the darkest sites on Earth (Canary Islands, Hawaii or Chile). But my favourites are the cool red stars we call M dwarfs, which are the most numerous in the Milky Way and give us the best chance to study terrestrial planets like ours and their atmospheres.

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Who am I?

I am from Priego de Cordoba, a very beautiful village in the south of Spain. My research focuses on understanding how planets form and what are they made of. In particular, I am very interested in studying the origin and nature of planets between the size of Earth and Neptune. Although we have none of them in our Solar System, it appears that the stars in our neighbourhood have a lot of them!

I like to spend my free time with my wife and daughter traveling, going to museums, trying new food or exploring the city. I have many other interests like jazz and flamenco music, architecture, sports, science outreach and many more. Feel free to ask me!

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Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (Spain)
Doctorate in Astrophysics
University of Heidelberg (Germany)
Master in Physics, especialization in Astrophysics
University of Granada (Spain)
Bachelor of Physics
Mar 2022 - present
Margarita Salas Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Chicago (USA)
Jun 2021 - Feb 2022
Severo Ochoa Postdoctoral Fellow
Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia (Spain)
Sep 2017 - Dec 2017
Research Assistant
International Centre of Scientific Computing (Germany)


I have led or participated in the discovery and characterization of more than 200 planets orbiting all types of stars. Since the beginning of my PhD in 2018, I have published 120+ papers (18 as first/co-lead author), given 30+ international talks, and awarded nearly 600 nights (almost two full years!) of competitive telescope time. Additionally, I regularly serve in funding review and telescope time allocation panels, and review numerous publications for astronomy journals.

Download my CV

Research Interests

The mysterious nature of sub-Neptune planets

The mysterious nature of sub-Neptune planets

Sub-Neptunes challenge our understanding of planet formation and evolution. They are the most numerous type of planet in our Galaxy, but absent in the solar system. My research focuses in deciphering the properties of these planets. What are they made of? Where do they form? And, more interestingly, could they harbor the right conditions for sustaining life?

Check my publications in ADS!

Outreach: ''Los Coloraos''

My most precious outreach project has been to build, with the help of my friends Miguel Gil and Migue Pugnaire, an amateur observatory fully devoted to astronomy education in Gorafe, Spain, at the heart of Granada’s (recently designated) UNESCO Global Geopark. The observatoryis the culmination of more than a decade of work in the rural areas of Andalusia doing hundreds of publicly-open, free astronomical observations, experiment shows and introduction courses in schools, and helping local businesses to use the night sky as a natural resource to attract low-impact, ecological, and socially-responsible tourism.

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Outreach: ''Los Coloraos''

Publicity and Press

A resonant sextuplet of sub-Neptunes transiting the bright star HD 110067

Luque et al. (2023)

Luque et al. (2023)

Nature, 623, 932-937

Surprise finding suggests water worlds are more common than we thought

Luque & Palle (2022)

Luque & Palle (2022)

Science, 377, 1211-1214

Confirmation of Toasty TESS Planet Leads to Surprising Find of Promising World

Luque et al. (2019)

Luque et al. (2019)

A&A, 628, A39


Phone Number

+1 (sevenseventhree) 219 99four5




5640 S Ellis Ave, ERC 521
Chicago, IL 60615, USA