Exoplanet Characterization with Aperture Photometry
A large focus of mine has revolved around the characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres as well as placing constraints on the physical parameters of these systems. Exoplanets orbiting nearby M-Dwarfs are ideal targets for exoplanet research (1) because M dwarf stars are most numerous, and (2) because the higher planet-to-star radius ratio allows smaller planets’ atmospheres to be characterized within the precision of both ground and space-based telescopes. Under direction from Dr. Ian Crossfield, I have completed a first author paper on the revision of exoplanet, GJ 3470b’s planetary and stellar parameters with optical to near-IR transit photometry, which has been submitted to MNRAS.
I have also carried out followup research on a proposed method of observing the interaction of the magnetic fields of hot Jupiters and their host stars’ coronal plasma. There is recent speculation that the effect of the planet’s bow shock can be observed with transit timing variations between the U and R bands due to absorptions and scattering in the near-UV.
Accretion Disk and Dust Emission in Low-Luminosity AGN
During the Fall of 2014, I participated in an internship at Gemini Observatory where my prime focus was the preliminary analysis of a subset of 34 cross-dispersed spectra acquired at Gemini North with GNIRS (Gemini Near-Infrared Spectrograph). The goal of this project is to test two key hypotheses about low-luminosity AGN:
- Does the accretion disk become truncated at low accretion rates, and its inner region replaced by an advection-dominated accretion flow?
- Does the obscuring torus of the AGN unified model disappear at low accretion rates?
Since the active nucleus is faint in low accretion rate objects, we began by testing a method in which we successfully disentangled the AGN emission from the stellar emission in the host galaxies.
Supervisor: Dr. Rachel Mason
Since the Solar Mass Ejection Imager (SMEI) had been de-comissioned in 2011, its successor, the Heliospheric Imagers (HIs) board the STEREO spacecraft, have become the standard for heliospheric imaging. During the summer of 2013, advised by Dr. Tim Howard, I began developing an autonomous CME detection pipeline in IDL, which will be compatible with HI data. This code eliminates human bias in the identification and classification of CMEs for which a CME database can be developed from the data archives. These data are crucial to the process of working toward the development of an integrated tool for space weather prediction.
Deuterium Abundances in Molecular Cloud Cores
I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Yancy Shirley on the ﬁrst astrochemical survey comparing deuteration rates in the complete core population within a single molecular cloud. We observed approximately 120 cores in Perseus in the lines of N2D+ 3-2, DCN 3-2, DNC 3-2, DCO+ 3-2, and NH2D 1-1 using the (HHT) Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Telescope. I helped develop an efficient reduction script in CLASS (Continuum and Line Analysis Single-dish Software) designed to accurately reduce large quantities of spectra over a shorter period of time.
I also participated in a radio astronomy project with the Astronomy Club, supervised by Dr. Yancy Shirley at the University of Arizona. Using the 12-meter Radio Telescope on Kitt Peak, we observed cold cores in the Perseus molecular cloud in search for blue asymmetries in the observed spectral lines of each core. A blue asymmetry is a potential sign of material infall in the cloud, which could be an indicator of protostellar formation.
For a collaboration graduate and undergraduate students at the UofA, we identified the variation in brightness of several Kepler targets, to determine the rotational period of each stellar type as well as taking note of distributions in light curve depth, to indicate a potential relationship between the stellar cycle and star type.