Research

 

"This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
~Neil Armstrong

 M13 The Hercules Cluster


About Me

Research

The Deep Ecliptic Survey

Teaching

Homeschool

 

Publications

Astronomy Links 

Ministry Links

 

In elementary school I met Clyde Tombaugh who discovered Pluto in 1930. Ever since I have pursued studies of the outer solar system...old habits die hard. 

Thesis: Kuiper Belt Binaries

In September of 2005 I completed my PhD in Planeary Astronomy at MIT with a thesis studying the frequency, orbital and resolved rotational properties of Binary Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs). In my graduate program I worked with Dr. Jim Elliot and as part of the Deep Ecliptic Survey team, a project aimed at discovering and dynamically characterizing 500 new KBOs. My thesis work in addition to the survey focused on the rotational signatures of binary KBOs and other KBOs that might show themselves to be binary using the Magellan telescopes in Chile in combination with the instrument MagIC, developed and built by Jim and Dr. Dave Osip at Las Campanas Observatory. My thesis can be found under the publications link. I have many people to thank for their support during the time I was working on my thesis and am eternally grateful.

Undergraduate Research

At the end of my second year at the University of Arizona I began to work with Dr. Don McCarthy and the NICMOS (Near-Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer)Project.This research lead me to explore near-infrared astronomy of comets and (at the time,newly discovered) Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs). Our observations of Hale Bopp caught it during an outburst over a span of nearly two hours.  From Hale Bopp I moved onto studying the Kuiper Belt and their escapees, the Centaurs. My thesis for the Honors Program consisted of spectroscopy (NICMOS), photometry and a small amount of astrometry fora handful of these objects. The NICMOS spectroscopy proved to be very difficult, but resulted in some interesting results. My original work in photometry was to measure the lightcurves of six KBOs (work done in collaboration with Dr. Mark Wagner, LBTO).Our astrometry program measured positions for recovery observations of newly discovered KBOs, for which we might later do further studies.

  REU at Lowell Observatory

During a summer REU program I worked with Dr. Marc Buie at Lowell Observatory on ground and space based spectroscopy of Pluto. I analyzed data from the ONIS and OSIRIS spectrometers and some resolved HST imaging of Pluto-Charon. I am indebted to Marc for teaching me the ins and outs of collecting data at telescopes and how to program in IDL.