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Since my first research experience in the summer of 2014, I've explored many different sub-fields of astronomy to try and find the one that excites me the most. In these last few years, I've studied galaxies, quasars, star formation, the Cosmic Microwave Background, and exoplanets. Read below to learn more about the research I've done since I started grad school.

If you'd like to invite me to give a science talk, send me an email! 

planet-velocity relation

Stars in different parts of the Milky Way have different speeds - stars closer to the center of the galaxy tend to move slower than stars farther out. But does the speed of a star have any influence on whether or not it will host planets.

Using exoplanet data from the Kepler telescope and motion data from the Gaia telescope, I was able to compare the velocities of planet-hosting stars to stars that don't look like they have planets. 

...and unfortunately I wasn't able to find a real difference between the two groups. So it looks like planets are just as likely to form around slow stars as they are around fast stars. At least, that's what the data says about stars near the Sun. I'm going to keep exploring this question in other parts of the galaxy.

I recently submitted a paper on this topic for publication, so come back soon for updates!

chemo-kinematics

When we look at the Milky Way, we see stars that are moving at similar speeds and in similar directions, even though they may be nowhere near each other in the sky. We call these clumps of stars "moving groups," and we can study them to learn more about how our galaxy formed!

 

In the video shown on this page, every point is a single star, and they're color coded based on the moving group I've determined they're a part of. Now that I've identified the different groups, I can start to study their chemical profiles.

 

Just like a forensic scientist can tell where a murder victim has been based on the contents of their stomach, I can tell where these groups formed based on their chemistry.  

exotopography

One of the most successful methods of detecting exoplanets is transit photometry. Using this method, we can study the shadow that a planet casts on its star to learn about the planet's physical characteristics.

Even though we've known about exoplanets for more than 20 years, we haven't had powerful enough telescopes to study their surfaces. In anticipation of the next generation of giant telescopes, I developed the first method to detect and quantify mountains on exoplanets. 

The video to the left is what Earth would look like if we could see it rotate in front of a star. The plot at the bottom is called a "light curve" and tells us how much of the star's light the planet is blocking. 

To learn more about this project, click the links below!