Below is a list of project ideas that either A) I am hoping to work on, or B) I would love a student or collaborator to work on! I am putting these ideas online in the hopes of attracting people to help work on them.

If you see something you’d like to collaborate on, please reach out to me!

  • SETI with ZTF
    • while optical surveys aren’t the typical (or maybe ideal) data source for SETI work, we should mine them nonetheless.
    • am building some broad support/interest from SETI community
    • obvious future potential with LSST
    • idea sketched out here
    • definitely a paper worth writing…
    • wrote a “Scialog” proposal about this recently with Nick Law
  • Stellar Rotation with K2 (and TESS)
    • use Gaia to filter out “junk”
    • working primarily with Ruth Angus
    • some thoughts on (many!) sub-projects here
  • Searching for Flare Rate Changes
    • The Sun has ~10x change in flare rate between “max” and “min” of Solar Cycle
    • We have 4-year flare rates in Kepler that can be chopped into windows of time!
    • Simple goal: look for any coherent changes
    • have hand-selected ~20 stars to start search in, have high variance & high S/N in FFD plots.
  • Searching for “Boyajian’s Star” analogs in SDSS, or ZTF
    • idea first outlined here for SDSS
    • test ideas/search w/ PTF?
  • Unresolved binaries from Gaia
    • started sketching idea out on GitHub
    • L. Anderson & D. Hogg doing similar work w/ wide binaries.
    • SO much structure in the CMD w/ Gaia DR2, there must be multiple PhD’s to be done here…
  • Searching for “missing transits” in Kepler(/K2/TESS)
    • are there any Kepler transits that are “missing”, i.e. should have been visible but didn’t occur
    • a potential SETI signal, according to a recent paper
    • a more detailed explanation is on this blog post
    • PyDIS: The Python-based long slit spectroscopy pipeline
    • Gender in Astronomy Conferences
      • Ongoing project that needs help analyzing data!
      • Data is simple to read, basic plots and analysis are needed!
      • More info here
    • Tricycle: Looking for eclipsing binary systems with two rotation periods
      • “3 periods, 2 stars, 1 age”
      • Possibly interesting systems from standpoint of “gyrochronology”, as well as binary dynamics!
      • working with collaborators at UW (GitHub project)
      • so far has resulted in Lurie et al. (2017), and MORE NEW QUESTIONS!
  • Stellar Activity variations using GALEX
    • can we see evidence of solar cycles or other long-term variability?
    • involves searching for “non stationary” variability (e.g. not periodic within data span)
    • some initial thoughts on this blog post
  • Eclipsing Binary Stars across entire galaxies
    • use data from OGLE survey, over 48k binaries in SMC/LMC
    • look for variations in orbit period distribution
    • compare to star formation histories of SMC/LMC, look for connection to age
    • more thoughts on this blog post
  • Recovering differential rotation from Kepler light curves
    • use machine learning to learn features in the periodogram that correlate with differential rotation?
    • some more details are at this blog post
    • Despite excellent work showing it may be nearly impossible, I think there is still some room to explore here…
  • Detailed Properties of Stellar Flares versus Spectral Type
    • Use flare sample from active stars in Kepler
    • Look at classical flare morphology, like in this paper
    • Look at details of complex flares, like in this paper
    • Modeling flares with new models/techniques (e.g. Gaussian Processes)
    • Good fodder for a grant proposal.
    • Related: Searching for QPPs in flares
  • How many eclipsing binary stars do we expect to see in an open cluster?
    • A straight forward numerical question. Take all known probability distributions of stars/clusters/binaries, as well as observability constraints, and multiply them together.
    • compare to best known catalogs of eclipsing binaries in open clusters (e.g. M67). Do we get roughly the right number?
    • Can we improve constraint on eclipsing binary population statistics (e.g. period distribution) based on results of our forward modeling?
    • a few more details are in this blog post
    • Kepler/K2 data for M67 is now available
  • Validating a weird short period Eclipsing Binary
    • I’ve got an object with data, and I think I know what it is, but need to analyze the data
    • would help to generate a full eclipsing binary model of the system using PHOEBE or similar
  • “Chemical cartography” using SDSS M dwarfs
    • given huge spectroscopic sample of M dwarfs from SDSS (and now LAMOST), can we use rough [Fe/H] measurements to trace abundances nearby?
    • can we re-cast these [Fe/H] measurements in to more useful relative line measurements, and/or use photometric colors?
    • I started working on this a few years ago, but have lost steam…
    • Now w/ Gaia we probably can say even more about this!

Some thoughts I’m not actively pushing, but had listed at one point. Included for completeness… If these strike you as interesting, DO let me know!

  • Project Dust Storm: Can we see the proper motions of dust within the Galaxy?
    • could we directly image (e.g. with ALMA) dust moving over a decade-long timeline? (I’m not sure how good ALMA’s astrometry is…)
    • could we imply clouds moving due to changes in the foreground dust extinction for background stars/objects over time?
    • Would be good to do order-of-magnitude calculation about spherical cloud of dust moving…
    • some more details of this longtime pet project are here
  • Lunar occultations of K2 targets
    • some ideas here
    • Maybe a great teaching project! (e.g. w/ MRO?)
  • Could circumbinary exoplanets form very tight (contact) binary systems?
    • some shaky details for this idea are here
  • Searching for M dwarf flares/variability in WISE
    • use the NEOWISE light curves
    • pick M dwarfs using J-W2 color
    • use best sampled light curves from polar regions with most visits
    • also look at previously known flaring M dwarfs
      • e.g (UV Ceti, AD Leo, YZ CMi, CN Leo, Proxima Cen…)
    • some looking @ M dwarf variability with WISE already
  • Flux calibration of the TESS data
    • This should be done, but currently is not planned for the TESS full frame images.
    • some more details are at this blog post

Attribution

This page was inspired by this blog by D. Hogg.