Research

Exoplanet Atmospheres

My research is focused on the novel characterization of exoplanet atmospheres with observations made from the Wyoming InfraRed Observatory (WIRO) (2.3 m telescope). This project is focused on the exoplanet population known as "Super-Earths / Mini-Neptunes." This exoplanet population has no Solar System analog and encompasses a wide range of possible interior/atmospheric possibilities. Early observational studies have emphasized the possible existence of high hazes. The project takes advantage of the time I have access to WIRO to increase the number of observed exoplanet atmospheres in the visual photometric bands (ugriz) to characterize Super-Earth's empirically as a population. An account of the atmosphere can be made by analyzing transit depth as a function of wavelength by applying a Bayesian parameter estimator to the sudo-spectral data and literature values for other system parameters. The project makes use of the Astro Image J package (Collins et al. 2016), the batman Python package (Kreidberg 2015), and emcee an affine invarient MCMC Python package (Forman-Hackey, Hogg, Lang, & Goodman 2013).

RBO Automation and Transiting Exoplanets

Over the last three years I have been the lead in a small group that has created remote and automated operations at the Red Buttes Observatory (0.6 m telescope). Major aspects of the project included installation of hardware, creation of control scripts, and emperical tests of safety features. The upgrades were done to make photometric exoplanet transit follow-up observations at RBO easy and accessable for undergraduate researchers. A paper is soon to be submitted to PASP detailing the upgrade procedure with the intent to inform others looking to perform similar upgrades at similar size observatories.