Studying stellar physics, rocky bodies in planetary systems, and the fate of binary star systems

I am a member of the research faculty at UC San Diego working in the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences. My research interests cover a wide breadth. Most recently I have utilized ultra-precise astrometry afforded by very long baseline radio interferometry to measure the most accurate and precise distance ever to the Pleaides cluster, thus resolving decades of controversy and cementing our understanding of the physics of young stars. By collecting light across the electro-magnetic spectrum, I investigate how rocky bodies (from small dust grains to Earth-like planets) are formed, how they change as a planetary system ages, and ultimately how they are destroyed when their host star dies. Binary star systems can experience unique evolutionary channels if any of their stellar constituents are close enough to interact as the stars enter their death throes. In this way, old stars can be reborn into characteristics typically only associated with newborn stars. Due to their peculiar observational signatures for their age, these unusual stars that I identified serendipitously through my thesis research have been dubbed 'Phoenix Giants'.

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