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astronomy

My ultimate goal is to find a habitable planet outside our solar system. The best way to do this is to analyse the light from exoplanets so that their atmospheres can be characterized. This characterization requires an understanding of the impact different molecules have on an atmosphere’s spectra. My research focuses on the simulation of molecules so that they can be detected in that spectra.

Not all the same

Not all the same

Pictured above is the Milky Way. Seen from here, our Sun, so special to us, isn't special at all - just one of 300 billion beautiful white lights. But it is this light, seemingly so fundamental and pure, that holds the keys to unlocking the secrets of the planets hidden around the stars. Figuring out these keys: that's part of my job.

 These are planetary systems. Some of their planets have atmospheres. Some of those atmospheres may have evidence of life, though we don't yet know how that would look. Figuring that out: that's part of my job.

These are planetary systems. Some of their planets have atmospheres. Some of those atmospheres may have evidence of life, though we don't yet know how that would look. Figuring that out: that's part of my job.

The Sun

The Sun

This is the Sun's spectrum. Its shadows are caused by the many features of tiny molecules on its surface. We don't yet know which molecules cause each feature. Figuring out these molecules: that's part of my job.

Molecular spectra

Molecular spectra

One of the molecules above is phosphine (bottom left). It's my favourite. There are about 14,000 molecules we care about when looking for a new Earth or alien biosignatures. If we want to detect them from here, we need to know their spectra, and we currently don't. Solving this particular problem: that's my job.