Lea Hirsch

About Me

I am a second-year astronomy graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. I completed my undergraduate degree in Physics at Cornell University, where I worked with the SOFIA team on data collected by the Cornell-built infrared instrument, FORCAST. My initial research involved calibration of the instrument following the first series of diagnostic flights aboard SOFIA. Later, I focused on the Ultra-Compact HII region W3(OH), a site of recent massive star formation. I utilized the radiative transfer code DUSTY to model the region, and the online Robitaille protostellar model grid to learn about nearby protostars.

Since arriving at Berkeley, I have worked with Professor Geoff Marcy. My first project involved the characterization of exoplanet host stars using the SpecMatch routine, which compares target star spectra to a stellar spectral library to determine properties such as surfact temperature, gravity, and metallicity. I conducted a rigorous analysis of the library, removing binary stars which confuse the algorithm, in an effort to streamline the process by which host star, and thus planet, parameters are determined.

I have since moved on to study binary stars themselves using both radial velocity data from the California Planet Search and adaptive optics observations from the Lick Observatory's Shane 3-meter telescope. My ultimate goal in this project is to contribute to the understanding of how planets form and evolve in binary stellar systems, in comparison to single stellar systems. I will pursue this question by surveying stars within 20 pc of the Sun using adaptive optics and RV data to isolate stars with binary companions. I will then use RV data to constrain the comparative occurrence rate and properties of planets in stellar systems with and without a binary companion.


Hirsch, L. et al. 2012


Astronomy/EPS/L&S C12 Fall 2012
Astronomy 7a Fall 2013


2009 and 2012 Annual Expanding Your Horizons Conference
2012 and 2013 Discovery Day at AT&T Park
2012 and 2013 Bay Area Scientists in Schools participant
Helped design and build demonstration on stellar parallax as a distance measure

Contact Me

Lea Hirsch
Astronomy Department
University of California Berkeley
Hearst Field Annex, Office C-255

Email: lhirsch@berkeley.edu