Magnetic Fields in Starburst Galaxies

I am currently working with Carl Heiles to characterize the magnetic fields in starburst galaxies. The exciting conclusion thus far is that the Zeeman splitting in OH maser lines indicate that magnetic fields in the interstellar medium of starburst galaxies are dynamically important. This is contrary to results that assume cosmic rays and magnetic fields have equal energy density and then measure the synchrotron flux to estimate the magnetic field.

Gemini Planet Imager

Under the guidance of James Graham, I worked on experimental design for the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), an instrument that in mid-2011 will begin directly imaging young gas giants around nearby stars. I used constraints on the distribution of masses and semi-major axes of extrasolar planets from radial velocity observations and results from previous direct imaging surveys to generate populations of gas giants around other stars. Then, I used models of the thermal evolution of gas giants to evaluate the likelihood of detecting a planet around a star, given basic information about the star such as its age, distance, and brightness. This work, summarized in this paper, will be used in selecting targets once GPI begins observations in order to help achieve science goals, such as constraints on planet formation mechanism and evolution, and maximize the detection rate of planets.

Mass Accretion Histories in the Millenium Simulation

My undergraduate honors thesis adviser Chung-Pei Ma, her graduate student Onsi Fakhouri, and I investigated the statistics of dark matter halos from the Millennium simulation. We showed that the accretion rate on to dark matter halos was dependent upon environment, and provided a simple two parameter fitting form for dark matter halo growth. For further information, see my undergraduate honors thesis.