"Stellar Mortician"

The Young Supernova Experiment (YSE)

I am a member of the YSE (Young Supernova Experiment), which utilizes large surveys' consistent stream of photometry to catch extremely young supernovae as they happen in real time. Often we combine this knowledge with spectroscopy to identify transients, we perform a multi-wavelength follow-up to tell the story of truly outstanding events. (ADS link)

Thorne-Zytkow Objects

Another fun project I've been involved in is finding TZOs: Thorne-Zytkow Objects. These strange beasts are quite literally a red supergiant star with a neutron star core. As you can imagine, to our eyes they may easily masquerade as simple red supergiants, but to a gravitational wave detector, these would look like neutron stars! (ADS link)

To learn even more, you can explore my AAS Poster here!!!


I've earned the nickname "Stellar Mortician" for my love of dead stars and the way I piece together their exact processes at the end of their lives. I find it fascinating that gravity, something we take for granted every day, creates awe-inspiring behemoths like black holes and neutron stars, in the matter of an instant

When a star dies, the surrounding environment is so hot, and so dense, even the most energetic waves (gamma rays) take hours to escape. In these moments, a massive star's gravity overcomes all other fundamental forces, and crushes itself down to the width of a city (~10km, a neutron star) or smaller than this period: .  (a black hole). 

Because light takes so long to escape, we cannot see exactly how these dead stars form. Nature would continue to keep this secret quite effectively, if not for gravitational waves. Acting as a sense entirely separate to experience core collapse (the process of massive stellar death), gravitational waves created in simulations can provide unique details to stitch the story together.

By studying the moments just before death (mass loss), the instance of collapse (simulated gravitational waves), and the crescendo of blasting ejecta (all EM processes!), I pen the narrative of stellar death, handing off radio, X-ray, UVIR, and gravitational data to one another.

Mass Loss in Hydrogen-Stripped SNe

I have worked with my PhD advisor, Raffaella Margutti, to utilize the entire electromagnetic spectrum towards this end. I study spectra, photometry, X-ray, and radio data. Currently, I use the software I have written to model synchrotron radiation (radio) and Free-Free Absorption (Bremsstrahlung) radiation (radio and X-ray) of SNe Ibc/IIb shock waves. 

These shocks probe the outer environment of the star, and tell us vital information about how much mass a star lost before it died. We still don't understand exactly how stars lose mass... a piece of the explosion-puzzle I am putting together! (ADS link... but a more fun poster here.)

Multimessenger Binary White Dwarf Systems

When LISA (the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) launches in the next decade, we will see MANY gravitational waves from Milky Way objects... almost like walking into a crowded party full of cosmic chatter and laughter! 

My previous research with my PhD advisor Shane Larson was to identify the loudest members of the party (there are thousands!) and maximize the science that can be learned from listening to them. I use simulated Milky Way galaxies to glean what electromagnetic astronomers and gravitational wave astronomers can accomplish when they put their unique perspectives together.