There are many types of stars that have emission line components to their spectra, in addition to blackbody and absorption components. Unfortunately, a thorough understanding of the physics that drives these systems is hampered by small sample sizes and heterogeneous datasets. I'm working with Dr. Julianne Dalcanton using narrow-band HST imaging (proposal GO-13857) in conjunction with six-filter PHAT photometry to identify and characterize populations of stars such as Be stars, symbiotic stars, RHeB, and AGB stars that exhibit anomalous Hα emission.
M31 with HST/ACS F475W & F814W (blue & orange) + Subaru Hα (pink) imaging. Credit: R. Gendler
WFIRST will represent a giant leap forward for characterization of the stellar component of galaxy halos in the Local Volume; halo studies require a combination of depth and wide-field coverage that WFIRST/WFI will be able to deliver like no other instrument. I work with Dr. Ben Williams and the WINGS Science Investigation Team to quantify WFIRST's ability to accurately measure the star-formation histories of different halo populations and recover their ages and metallicities, and thus to optimize future observing strategies. I presented a poster with accompanying Jupyter notebooks on this at the Astronomy in the 2020s: Synergies with WFIRST meeting in June 2017.
NGC 4631 & NGC 4656 with the WFI footprint superimposed, adapted from Martínez-Delgado et al. 2015.
I am part of the third cohort of the University of Washington's Science, Technology, and Society Studies Certificate Program. I believe that an understanding of how STEM fields operate in relation to social power structures is a critical aspect of being a responsible scientist. I'm particularly interested in the epistemology of "big data", constructions of objectivity, and rhetorics of observation, exploration, and colonization in astronomy.