Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Noah Wolfe Tuchow


Noah Wolfe Tuchow's Contact Card & Information.
Org Code: 667
Mail Code 667
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Brief Bio

I'm Noah Tuchow, an NPP Postdoctoral Fellow at NASA Goddard. I work on precursor science for the next generation of future space-based missions to directly image exoplanets. I'm currently compiling a preliminary input catalog for the upcoming Habitable Worlds Observatory, gathering the target stars where it might be possible to directly image Earth-sized planets around, and computing their stellar properties. We plan to use this input catalog for exoplanet yield studies and other trade studies to assess which mission designs for the Habitable Worlds Observatory have the best science output.

I also research the long-term habitability of exoplanets and how stars and their habitable zones evolve in time. For my thesis research at Penn State, I worked with Professor Jason Wright to develop a mathematical framework to determine which stars are the best candidates to host planets with biosignatures. I have also done research in a variety of other areas including exoplanet transit timing variations, searching for high proper motion brown dwarfs, and applied optics for airborne remote sensing.

Research Interests

Exoplanet Direct Imaging

Astrophysics: Extrasolar planets

I am working on precursor science for the Habitable Worlds Observatory. This future mission concept aims to obtain the precision necessary to directly image Earth-sized planets in the habitable zones of their stars. We hope to be able to characterize their spectra and infer whether these planets are habitable and if they display signs of life

Stellar Structure and Evolution

Astrophysics: Stars

I study how stars evolve and change over time. I am interested in how stellar evolution changes affects the evolution of exoplanets and to what extent understanding a star's evolutionary history can inform the current properties of its planets.

Long-term habitability of exoplanets

Astrophysics: Extrasolar planets

From understanding the evolution of host stars, one can determine the duration which planets have spent in the habitable zone. Given the timescales over which life emerged on Earth, the duration for which a planet has hosted habitable conditions likely has a strong influence on the probability that a planet hosts detectable biosignatures.

Belatedly Habitable Planets

Astrophysics: Extrasolar planets

A large fraction of planets that are currently located in the habitable zone did not form there. Instead, many planets form interior or exterior to the habitable zone and enter it either due to migration or via the change in habitable zone location caused by stellar evolution. It is unclear whether these planets entering the habitable zone from outside can host habitable conditions. Since many planets that we find in the habitable zone will belong to this class of planets, I'm interested in understanding whether they are good targets in the search for life.


PhD, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pennsylvania State University (2022)

Dual title in Astrobiology

MS, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pennsylvania State University (2019)

Dual title in Astrobiology

BA, Physics, University of Chicago (2015)

Specialization: Astrophysics

Other Professional Information

My research has been featured in multiple news articles:

‘Goldilocks’ revelation reduces the odds of finding alien life

The Telegraph, Jan 2023 (link)

Up to 74% of planets in the ‘habitable zone’ may not be good for life

New Scientist, Jan 2023 (link)

How We Define Habitable Planets Could Change, Marking 'Paradigm Shift' in Search for Life

Newsweek, Sept 2021 (link)

New Ideas on What Makes a Planet Habitable Could Reshape the Search for Life

Science News, Aug 2021 (link)

I was recently interviewed in a NASA Early Career Scientist Spotlight. Here is a link to the interview:



2024. "HPIC: The Habitable Worlds Observatory Preliminary Input Catalog." The Astronomical Journal 167 (139): 18 [10.3847/1538-3881/ad25ec] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "The Abundance of Belatedly Habitable Planets and Ambiguities in Definitions of the Continuously Habitable Zone." The Astrophysical Journal 944 (1): 71 [10.3847/1538-4357/acb054] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Potential Habitability as a Stellar Property: Effects of Model Uncertainties and Measurement Precision." The Astrophysical Journal 930 (1): 78 [10.3847/1538-4357/ac65ea] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Belatedly Habitable Planets." Research Notes of the American Astronomical Society 5 (8): 194 [10.3847/2515-5172/ac1ea2] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Final Report for SAG 22: A Target Star Archive for Exoplanet Science." arXiv e-prints [] [Other]

2020. "A Framework for Relative Biosignature Yields from Future Direct Imaging Missions." The Astrophysical Journal 905 (2): 108 [10.3847/1538-4357/abc556] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "The efficiency of geometric samplers for exoplanet transit timing variation models." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 484 (3): 3772--3784 [10.1093/mnras/stz247] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Sensitivity analysis of volume scattering phase functions." Optics express 24 (16): 18559--18570 [10.1364/OE.24.018559] [Journal Article/Letter]