Hello and welcome to my webpage! I recently graduated from Tufts University with a BS in Astrophysics. Outside of academics, I may have an addiction to baking, and love crocheting, writing short stories, and sitting out by Lake Michigan. This fall, I will be pursuing a Masters degree in Physics at the University of Chicago and am so excited to start doing research in the Astronomy & Astrophysics Department!
Broadly, I am interested in observational exoplanet and stellar astrophysics. More narrowly, as of today (10/2018), I am interested in observational follow-up of exoplanet candidates studying both the new planet and planet-host populations identified by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). I find the use of data mining with TESS and Gaia particularly appealing, even though I am more interested in observational work. Additionally, I am interested in studying planet formation and evolution around low-mass stars, particularly low-mass binary systems. However, these interests are likely to evolve. I'm keeping my mind open to new ideas!
Currently, at the University of Chicago, I am developing an open-source Python package, called eleanor, whcih can be used to explore the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) Full-Frame Images (FFIs). I will be using this package to create light curves for all sources in the TESS Input Catalog for Tmag < 16, for which 1% photometry is achievable. These sources will be hosted on both the MAST and Exo-Fop TESS servers (links will be provided once TESS data is released). Members of the astronomy community will be able to install eleanor on their personal machines to use our visualization and analysis tools (example below). Users will also be able to create custom light curves for sources either fainter than Tmag = 16 or for sources not in the TESS Input Catalog. You can follow my progress on GitHub! The documentation for eleanor can be found using the link provided. Examples of what one can do with eleanor can be found using that link as well. The GIF below demonstrates one of the features of eleanor, using an exlipsing binary found in simulated TESS data (End-To-End 6; hosted on MAST). Users will be able to create time-series movies of their sources as well as track the associated light curve with the pixel data.
TESS data is finally here! Check out this super fun site, tess.casino, that Megan Bedell, Ben Montet, and I made together to celebrate the occassion! It displays a random light curve from the 2-minute cadence targets and allows users to get more information on the target (double down), tweet their target (royal flush), and submit a paper on their target to the ArXiV (cash out).
Example light curve of an eclipsing binary identified in TESS simulated data.
Example of a strongly lensed galaxy caused by the presence of the foreground galaxy cluster, Abell370.
I've had the fortune to work on several projects throughout my undergraduate career. First and foremost, my undergraduate research conducted at Tufts University focued on calculatin gravitational lensing factors and associated errors for sources located in the Hubble Frontier Fields campaign. Using the information of the photometric redshift of the background source and the redshift and mass map of the foreground lensing cluster, I applied the strong lensing equation to estimate the magnification factor for the background source. Additionally, I calculated systematic (from different mass maps) and random (from uncertainty on the photometric redshift) errors on the magnification factors. Our collaboration, as well as my personal contribution of the lensing catalogs, is publicly available and can be accessed here. The publication associated with this work can be found on in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. Below is a strong lensing event found using the galaxy cluster Abell370. To the left, a red-green-blue image of the cluster with a zoomed in area around a lensed background galaxy (lovingly named the dragon). To the right, a segmentation map of the lensing cluster and the associated magnification values of the galaxy (yellow = small lensing factor; black = large lensing factor). This work was also the basis of my undergraduate senior honors thesis. A smaller, side project studying the evolution of massive galaxies (11 > log(M/M_Sun) using the UltraVISTA Catalogs was the second portion of my thesis.
Examples of young stars identified and the predicted nearby young moving group they belong to.
I was fortunate enough to work as a summer intern at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center the summer following my junior year of undergraduate studies. My goal was to identify young stars to further confirm their membership in nearby young moving groups, clusterings of stars with similar ages and galactic motion. Because young stars are still contracting, gravity-sensitive spectral features are used as age indicators in low-mass stars; younger stars will have weaker spectral features than their older counterparts. I wrote a program that identified 27 young stars in my sample. The figure here is a demonstration of 4 identified young stars (blue) vs. a standard of the same spectral type (black). One can see that the spectral features of the young stars are weaker than those of the standard.
233rd AAS Meeting, Seattle, Washington -- Poster Session on Monday, January 7, 2019 Poster Number: 140.14
233rd AAS Meeting, Seattle, Washington -- Press Release on Monday, January 7, 2019
233rd AAS Meeting, Seattle, Washington -- TESS Special Session, January 8, 2019 202.04 at 10:40am
I am involved in several forms of outreach, mostly focusing around working with younger children. Upon landing in Chicago, I started volunteering at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club (HPNC) after camp speciality club called the Maker Club/Animation Art, which focuses on combining science and arts and crafts. I am also a new volunteer for the Letters to a Pre-Scientist and Skype a Scientist programs.
I recently announced my first first-author publication of a 1.9 Earth radii planet in the habitable zone of a low-mass binary system! This system was identified by citizen scientists of the Exoplanet Explorers program on Zooniverse. I gave a press release at the 233rd AAS meeting and it blew up from there! Check out our release from JPL, my interview on WGN radio, and my interview with the Chicago-Sun Times.
Chicago, IL, USA
afeinstein [at] uchicago [dot] edu