I am currently working with Carl Heiles to characterize the magnetic fields in the luminous infrared galaxies (LIRGs) that host OH megamasers. We have full Stokes observations for each of the two main OH lines at 1665 MHz and 1667 MHz and each of the two satellite lines at 1612 MHz and 1720 MHz, obtained using the Arecibo telescope. We look for the presence of magnetic fields in the Stokes V parameter, as it represents the difference between oppositely circularly polarized components. In the presence of a magnetic field, the maser spectral lines are split as a result of the Zeeman effect, which produces oppositely circularly polarized components at slightly different frequencies. By measuring the split, we can determine the line-of-sight strength of 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.