Arend J. Poelarends, Ph.D.

Physics Department

Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy
On Faculty since 2011

Office: Science Building 366
Phone: (630)752-5894
Fax: (630)752-5996


Covenant Theological Seminary, M.Div., Theology, 2011

Utrecht University (The Netherlands), Ph.D., Astrophysics, 2007
Thesis: “Stellar Evolution at the Borderline of White Dwarf and Neutron Star Formation.”

Utrecht University (The Netherlands), M.Sc., Physics & Astronomy, 2002

About Arend J. Poelarends

Dr. Poelarends is an astrophysicist. He was born and raised in the Netherlands, in a small town surrounded by farms, rivers and dikes. You could always find him outside and this is where he developed a deep love for God's creation. He is still in awe with the beauty of creation (not only stars!) and likes to be outside whenever he can. He loves active sports like cycling, hiking, running, sailing, swimming, kite surfing, camping and backpacking. One of these years he hopes to do a triathlon. He lives with his wife and daughter in Wheaton.

Courses Taught

  • ASTR 302 - Stellar Astronomy
  • PHYS 231 - Introductory Physics I
  • PHYS 232 - Introductory Physics II
  • PHYS 233 - Introduction to Relativity
  • PHYS 234 - Introduction to Quantum Physics
  • PHYS 333 - Thermal Physics and Fluids
  • PHYS 353 - Introductory Optics
  • PHYS 366 - Particle Physics and Cosmology
  • PHYS 367 - Introduction to Stellar and Galactic Astrophysics

Membership in Professional Societies

  • Dutch Astronomical Society (NAC)
  • American Astronomical Society
  • American Scientific Affiliation
  • American Association of Physics Teachers
  • ForumC (Academic Network for Christians, the Netherlands)
  • Sigma Pi Sigma


Dr. Poelarends research focuses on the evolution of stars, specifically those between 8 and 10 times as massive as the sun, i.e. the transition zone between stars that evolve into a white dwarf and stars that explode as a supernova and form a neutron star. He is particularly interested in the later stages of their evolution, and uses computational modeling to study their pre-supernova evolution and chemical makeup. These stars could possibly be the birthplace of a significant fraction of the chemical elements in our galaxy (r-process elements), of which we don’t know their origin of yet.

In addition to numerical/theoretical research, Dr. Poelarends also uses the new Wheaton telescope to carry out meaningful astronomical observations of objects that are out of reach of amateur telescopes and not important enough for professional telescopes. Currently he focuses his efforts on the detection of exoplanets. This resulted in a very fruitful observing campaign during the summer of 2012, in which one of his undergraduate students detected several exoplanets. Possible future areas of research might also be variable stars and asteroids.

The last area of interest is the intersection of science and faith. Dr. Poelarends is particularly interested in the role of worldview stories, and how these shape our identity, our view of God and this reality, and our ethics.

Refereed Journal Articles

M. P. L. Suijs, N. Langer, A. J. T. Poelarends, S. Yoon, A. Heger, and F. Herwig. “White dwarf spins from low-mass stellar evolution models.” Astronomy & Astrophysics, 481:L87–L90, Apr. 2008.

A. J. T. Poelarends, F. Herwig, N. Langer, and A. Heger. “The Supernova Channel of Super-AGB Stars.” The Astrophysical Journal, 675:614–625, Mar. 2008.

P. Podsiadlowski, N. Langer, A. J. T. Poelarends, S. Rappaport, A. Heger, and E. Pfahl. “The Effects of Binary Evolution on the Dynamics of Core Collapse and Neutron Star Kicks,” The Astrophysical Journal, 612:1044–1051, Sept. 2004.

Other Publications

N. Langer, A. J. van Marle, A. J. T. Poelarends, and S. Yoon. “Massive Stars, Supernovae  and long GRBs.” In A. de Koter, L. J. Smith, & L. B. F. M. Waters, editor, Mass Loss from Stars and the Evolution of Stellar Clusters, volume 388 of Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, pages 37, June 2008.

N. Langer, A. J. van Marle, A. J. T. Poelarends, and S. C. Yoon. “Massive Stars as Progenitors of Supernovae and GRBs.” In A. Vallenari, R. Tantalo, L. Portinari, & A. Moretti, editor, From Stars to Galaxies: Building the Pieces to Build Up the Universe, volume 374 of Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, pages 61, Dec. 2007.

M. Cantiello, H. Hoekstra, N. Langer, and A. J. T. Poelarends. “Thermohaline Mixing in Low-mass Giants: RGB and Beyond.” In R. J. Stancliffe, G. Houdek, R. G. Martin, & C. A. Tout, editor, Unsolved Problems in Stellar Physics: A Conference in Honor of Douglas Gough, volume 948 of American Institute of Physics Conference Series, pages 73–77, Nov. 2007.

A. J. T. Poelarends, R. G. Izzard, F. Herwig, N. Langer, and A. Heger. “Supernovae from massive AGB stars.” Memorie della Societa Astronomica Italiana, 77:846, 2006.

R. G. Izzard and A. J. T. Poelarends. “Synthetic super-AGB stars.” Memorie della Societa Astronomica Italiana, 77:840, 2006.


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