My research focuses on star formation and astrochemistry. I’m currently using JWST observations of the Chameleon I star forming cloud, as part of the ERS IceAge team, to obtain photometric catalogs of background stars.

I completed my PhD in star formation at UCD in Ireland in 2022. My PhD research focused on protostellar jets and star formation, aiming to understand how jets are launched, and what effects they have on the disk (and eventual protoplanets in the disk), and the surrounding cloud. During my PhD I was awarded a one year IRC-ESO studentship to work at ESO-HQ in Garching, Germany to study the accretion-ejection connection in young stars using VLT’s X-Shooter.



  • McClure M., et al., 2023, "An Ice Age JWST inventory of dense molecular cloud ices", Nature Astronomy, 7, 431–443
  • Erkal J., Manara C.F., Coffey D., Beccari G., P.C. Schneider, A. Natta, et al., 2022, "Helium lines as a probe of winds and accretion in young stars", A&A, 666, A188
  • Erkal J., Nisini B., Coffey D., Bacciotti F., Hartigan P., Antoniucci S., Giannini T., Eisloffel J. and Manara C.F., 2021, "Probing jets from young embeddded sources: clues from HST near-IR [FeII] images", ApJ, 919, 23
  • Erkal J., Dougados C., Coffey D., Cabrit S., Bacciotti F., Garcia-Lopez R., Fedele D., and Chrysostomou A., 2021, "Launching the asymmetric bipolar jet of DO Tau", A&A, 650, A46


Conference Contributions

Coffey D., Bacciotti F., Podio L., Erkal J., 2017, “The Near-UV: the True Window on Jet Rotation”, Italian Astronomical Society [online]


Erkal J., Nisini B., Coffey D., Bacciotti F., Hartigan P. et al., ”Tracing the accretion-ejection link at young stars through time: an infrared study from Class 0 to Class II” at INAM 2021, online, September 1 2021
Erkal J., Nisini B., Coffey D., Bacciotti F., Hartigan P. et al.„ ”Clues on the Accretion/Ejection Process in Young Stars: Jets from Class 0/I Sources in the NIR with HST/WFC3” at COSPAR 2021, online/Sydney, January 29 2021
Erkal J., Nisini B., Coffey D., 2019, “Imaging Jets from Young Embedded Sources” at Irish National Astronomy Meeting 2019, Armagh Observatory, Northern Ireland, September 5 2019
Murphy D., Erkal J., O’Connor S., Higgins D., 2017, “EIRSAT-1: Educational Irish Research Satellite” at ”FYS! Selection Workshop”, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, May 1-5 2017


Erkal J., Smith Z.L., Sun F., Boogert A.C.A., et al., “Characterizing the Chameleon I cloud with PSF Photometry” at The First Year of JWST Science, STScI, Baltimore, September 11-14 2023
Erkal J., Manara C.F., Coffey D., Nisini B., et al., “Tracing the accretion-ejection link at young stars through time” at Star Formation: From Clouds to Discs, hybrid, October 18-21 2021
Erkal J., Coffey D., Dougados C., Garcia-Lopez R., Bacciotti F., Cabrit S., 2018, ”Spectro-imaging the Bipolar Jet at DO Tau” at ”ESO Take a Closer Look”, Garching, Germany, 15-19 October 2018


Local Organising Committee for ”Threats from the Surroundings” ESO workshop, online, November 10-12 2020


Online Chair for ”Jets, Winds, and Molecular Cloud Feedback” Session at Star Formation: From Clouds to Discs” hybrid conference, Dublin & online, October 18-21 2021

Talks & Seminars
Erkal J., “Probing the jet-disk connection using infrared observations of protostellar jets” at IfA Manoa, UH, August 31 2022
Erkal J., Nisini B., Coffey D., Bacciotti F., Hartigan P., Manara C.F., et al., “Towards understanding the role of protostellar jets in star formation using high resolution observations in the infrared” at ESO/online, July 6 2021
Erkal J., Nisini B., Coffey D., Bacciotti F., Hartigan P., Dougados C., Cabrit S., et al., “Tracking the bipolar jet trajectory as an indicator of early planet formation” at INAF Arcetri/online, April 30 2021
Erkal J., Seminar for UCD MSc students in Space Science Technology, “EIRSAT-1 Product Assurance”, November 13th 2020

Media & Outreach
ESA Webb Science Release, Webb Unveils Dark Side of Pre-stellar Ice Chemistry, published on Jan 23 2023
Bishop Museum After Hours Event, Institute for Astronomy volunteer, Honolulu, September 9 2022
Silicon Republic article, “How this Irish researcher is reaching for the stars“, published Jun 1 2022
ESA/Hubble Picture of the Week, Hubble Snaps a Jet Set, published on Mar 7 2022
ESA/Hubble Picture of the Week, Astronomy in Action, published on Aug 30 2021
ESA/Hubble Picture of the Week, Baby in Tantrums, published on Feb 15 2021
ESO Blog post, Meet Our PhD Students, published on May 7 2021
EIRSAT-1 Space Art Challenges for JCSP schools in Ireland, online, March 1 2021
Embassy of Ireland in Chile Interviews, Erkal J. & Salmon L., online, February 2 2021
Baking in Space” for Science Week Ireland 2019, Shaw N., Smyth A., Charles R., Cowley A., Erkal J., Wall R., 2019, , Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, November 11 2019
Erkal J., Journey to Space for International Women’s Day, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland, March 7 2019

Observational Astrochemistry Postdoctoral Fellow
Ph.D. Star Formation, 2022, University College Dublin
MSc Space Science & Technology, 2017, University College Dublin
B.A. Physics & Astrophysics, 2016, Trinity College Dublin
IfA Mānoa,