Current Members

Adam Burgasser, PhD
Carl Melis, PhD
Jacqueline Faherty
Dagny Looper
Breann Sitarski
Emily Bowsher
Harish Khandrika

Past Members

Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi
Clara Bennett
John Bochanski, PhD
Salvador Guiterrez
Constantinos Melachrinos
John Sebastian Pineda
Charae Tongg
Andrew West, PhD
Group photos

Adam Burgasser, PhD

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[homepage]
Assistant Professor of Physics
Hellman Fellow
UC San Diego

My research focuses on the properties of the lowest mass stars and coldest brown dwarfs, particularly L dwarfs and T dwarfs and ultracool halo subdwarfs. I use observational techniques to infer the physical properties of these objects, search for and characterize multiple systems, and measure population statistics. My work incorporates optical and infrared spectroscopy, high resolution imaging (including traditional and laser guide star adaptive optics), space-based (HST & Spitzer) imaging, radio interferometry, and synoptic monitoring.

recent publications:

Burgasser, AJ, Looper, DL & Rayner, JT: ULAS J141623.94+134836.3: a Blue T Dwarf Companion to a Blue L Dwarf 2010, AJ, 139, 2448-2454.

Burgasser, AJ, Cruz, KL, Cushing, MC, et al. SpeX Spectroscopy of Unresolved Very Low-Mass Binaries. I. Identification of Seventeen Candidate Binaries Straddling the L Dwarf/T Dwarf Transition. 2010, ApJ, 710, 1142-1169

Carl Melis, PhD

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NSF Postdoctoral Fellow
CASS Postdoctoral Fellow
UC San Diego

My research focuses on the birth, life, death, and rebirth of planetary systems, with an emphasis on terrestrial (Earth-like) planets. I use radio telescopes like as the EVLA to study the dusty material that orbits young stars as planets form and undergo catastrophic collisions.. I study the death of rocky objects through observations of white dwarf stars, the end state of our Sun's evolution, from which we learn how planetary systems disintegrate and their elemental composition. I also study the rebirth of planetary systems around a peculiar class of first-ascent giant stars I've dubbed "Phoenix Giants", as they resemble in many ways youthful, planet forming star systems.

recent publications:

Melis, C, Zuckerman, B, Rhee, JH, et al. The Age of the HD 15407 System and The Epoch of Final Catastrophic Mass Accretion onto Terrestrial Planets Around Sun-like Stars. 2010, ApJ, 717, L57

Melis, C, Zuckerman, B, Song, I, et al. A Substantial Dust Disk Surrounding an Actively Accreting First-Ascent Giant Star. 2009, ApJ, 696, 1964

Jacqueline Faherty

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[homepage]
Graduate Researcher
SUNY Stony Brook/American Museum of Natural History

My research centers low mass stars and brown dwarfs, with a focus on the kinematics of ultra cool dwarfs (UCDs). I am interested in what we can learn about the age, associations, and physical properties of these objects through space motions. Prior to entering graduate school in 2004 I worked in the education department at AMNH coordinating Astrophysics outreach endeavors in the NYC area.

Dagny Looper

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[homepage] Graduate Researcher
U. Hawaii Institute for Astronomy

I am conducting my PhD thesis at the Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, studying young, low mass stars in nearby moving groups and clusters. My masters thesis work focused on the atmospheric properties and multiplicity of T dwarfs. I have also worked with George Herbig investigating giant (old) stars found in young clusters, and the COSMOS project.

recent publications:

Looper, DL, Mohanty, S, Bochanski, JJ, et al. The Enigmatic Young, Low-mass Variable TWA 30 2010, ApJ, 714, 45-67

Looper, DL, Kirkpatrick, JD, Cutri, RM, et al. Discovery of Two Nearby, Peculiar L Dwarfs from the 2MASS Proper Motion Survey: Young or Metal-Rich? 2008, ApJ, 686, 528-541

Breann Sitarski

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Graduate Researcher
UC San Diego

recent publications:

Sitarski, B, & Lloyd, J. Resolution of Conventional and Masked Apertures with Lucy-Richardson Deconvolution 2010, BASS, 215, 439.10

Emily Bowsher

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Research Assistant/Engineer
UC San Diego

I am interested in astronomical instrumentation, and am working on the development of a new multi-channel near-infrared camera for 1-3m class telescopes.

recent publications:

Brown, WR, McLeod, BA, Geary, JC & Bowsher, EC. Smithsonian Widefield Infrared Camera 2010, SPIE, 7014, 90

Harish Khandrika

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Research Assistant
UC San Diego

I am working with Prof. Burgasser to measure variability on brown dwarfs caused by condensate cloud effects. Previously, I was a member of the Filippenko group at UC Berkeley, searching for supernovae explosions in distant galaxies.

recent publications:

Rothschild, RE, Wilms, J, Tomsick, J, Staubert, R, Benlloch, S, Collmar, W, Madejski, G, Deluit, S, & Khandrika, H: INTEGRAL and RXTE Observations of Centaurus A 2006, ApJ, 641, 801.

Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi

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MIT
(2007-2008)

For her MIT UROP project, Daniella worked on disentangling the properties of the brown dwarf binaries 2MASS 0850+1057 and 2MASS 1728+3948, using a combination of HST imaging and SpeX spectroscopy. Her poster at the 2009 AAS conference won an Honorable Mention.

where am I now?

Graduating from MIT in 2011 with a BS in Physics

select publications:

Burgasser, AJ, Bardalez Gagliuffi, DC, & Gizis, JE. Hubble Space Telescope Imaging and Spectral Analysis of Two Brown Dwarf Binaries at the L Dwarf/T Dwarf Transition. 2010, ApJ, submitted

Clara Bennett

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MIT
(2007-2008)

For her MIT UROP project, Clara reduced Spitzer/IRAC photometry of late-type L and T dwarfs, and also examined brown dwarf spectral binaries.

where am I now?

Graduating from MIT in 2011

select publications:

Burgasser, AJ, Tinney, CG, Cushing, MC, Saumon, D, Marley, MS, Bennett, C, & Kirkpatrick, JD. 2MASS J09393548-2448279: The Coldest and Least Luminous Brown Dwarf Binary Known?. 2008, ApJ Letters, 689, L53

John Bochanski, PhD

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[homepage]
Postdoctoral Researcher
MIT
(2008-2010)

John's research uses data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey along with the Two-Micron All Sky Survey to investigate the properties of nearby low-mass stars. He is interested in both their intrinsic properties and their use as tracers of local Galactic structure and kinematics. As a postdoctoral researcher at MIT, John helped in the construction and software of the FIRE spectrograph, and performed studies of M and L dwarfs with Magellan/MagE and Magellan/FIRE.

where am I now?

Postdoctoral research with Kevin Luhman at Penn State

select publications:

Bochanski, JJ, Hawley, SL, Covey, KR, et al. The Luminosity and Mass Functions of Low-mass Stars in the Galactic Disk. II. The Field 2010, AJ, 139, 2679

Salvador Guiterrez

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Undergraduate Researcher
UCSD
(2009-2010)

Salvador, a McNair Research Scholar, worked with Adam Burgasser on Beach Physics, an outreach project that aims to use videos, images, sound and social media to explore the connection between the beach and the Universe around us, and showcase physics in a fun environment and at a level appropriate for kids and adults alike.

where am I now?

Graduated UCSD in 2010; Electronics Engineer at Watt Stopper/Legrand

websites:

Beach Physics

Constantinos Melachrinos

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Undergraduate Researcher
MIT
(2007-2008)

For his MIT UROP project, Constantinos compiled data on ultracool subdwarfs and performed a search for new objects using various surveys. He helped conduct observations at the Magellan Telescope.

where am I now?

Graduate student at University of Chicago

John Sebastian Pineda

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Undergraduate Researcher
MIT
(2008-2010)

Sebastian worked with John Bochanski and Andrew West, studying the spatial and kinematic distributions of 70,000 M dwarfs from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, with the goal of measuring vertical and radial structure in the Galactic disk.

where am I now?

Graduate student at Caltech

select publications:

Schmidt, SJ, West, AA, Hawley, SL & Pineda, JS Colors and Kinematics of L Dwarfs from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey 2010, AJ, 139, 1808

Charae Tongg

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High School Researcher
Seabury Academy, Maui
(2009)

Charae worked with Adam Burgasser and radio producer Laura Civatello to create Astrofacts!, a series of astronomy-themed radio spots made by and for middle and high school students. Broadcast from the Paia Youth and Cultural Center's KOPO-LP radio station, Astrofacts! remains one of the most successful outreach programs developed by the group.

where am I now?

Senior year at Seabury

websites:

Astrofacts!

Andrew West

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[homepage]
Postdoctoral Fellow
MIT
(2008-2009)

Andrew investigates the magnetic activity, metallicities and dynamics of low-mass stars, studying large samples of these objects uncovered by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. He has developed techniques to age-date M dwarfs - the most common type of star in Galaxy, and has examined how the vertical distribution of the thin and thick disk of the Galaxy has been built up. He is also actively involved in diversity initiatives in astronomy.

where am I now?

Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Boston University

select publications:

West, AA & Basri, G A First Look at Rotation in Inactive Late-Type M Dwarfs. 2009, ApJ, 693, 1283

West, AA, Hawley, SL, Bochanski, JJ, et al. Constraining the Age-Activity Relation for Cool Stars: The SDSS DR5 Low-Mass Star Spectroscopic Sample. 2008, AJ, 135, 785

Group Shots


Adam, Breann, Andrew, Jackie, John and Dagny at Cool Stars 16 in Seattle, WA in 2010

John, Jackie, Dagny, Genevive Bjorn and Adam at the Sundance writing retreat in 2010

Adam and Harish at the Magellan Baade Telescope, Las Campanas Observatory, Chile in 2010

Anjali Tripathi (MIT), Daniella, Adam and John in the Carnegie Observatories library in 2009

John, Daniella and Adam in front of their posters at the AAS meeting in Pasadena, CA in 2009

Hard at work at the Maui writing retreat in 2009

John, Adam and Andrew at Cool Stars 15 in St. Andrews, Scotland in 2008

Adam, Jackie & Dagny at Cool Stars 15 in St. Andrews, Scotland in 2008

Adam, Andrew, Jackie & John at the Magellan Clay Telescope, Las Campanas Observatory, Chile in 2008

Daniella, Clara & Adam at the summit of Mauna Kea in 2008
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