Understanding Nearby Stars and their Planets

Project ID: 161

Supervisor(s): Benjamin Montet

My research group is focused on finding and understanding new planets orbiting stars other than the Sun, and developing new methods to better understand how stellar activity changes across stellar lifetimes. To do these, we use data from the NASA Kepler and TESS missions, as well as from ground-based facilities in Australia and abroad.

These data sets are large and growing, and I'm broadly interested in using modern statistical and computational methods to separate astrophysical signals from instrumental noise. This includes employing techniques from the machine learning literature and applying them to data to learn about stellar activity, planets, and other physical phenomena.

In detail, there are many avenues we could explore! Some possibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Using Kepler data to understand the variability of stellar magnetic activity cycles across the main sequence
  • Taking Keck/HIRES planet search data to build better data-driven models of stellar spectra to improve our precision in planet searches, and learn something about stellar activity indicators along the way
  • Searching TESS Full-Frame Images to find planets orbiting the youngest stars

I prefer to work with students to build projects together that match both of our interests, but any of these would provide a great baseline to build from towards this goal.  

I'm looking for students at all career stages who are interested in research on nearby stars and their planets. If you're looking for a research project as an undergraduate, Honours, or potential PhD student, I'm happy to discuss projects. I expect successful Honours students to be offered the opportunity to study for a PhD. If you're interested, do get in touch.