John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences

News and information from the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

Thesis Defense by Sean McCloat on Monday, October 9th

Space Studies master’s student, Sean McCloat, will defend his M.S. thesis on Monday, October 9th.  All Space Studies students and faculty are encouraged to attend.

When:  Monday, October 9th at 12:30 p.m.

Where:  Ryan Hall, Room 111

Title: “Transit Photometry of Recently Discovered Hot Jupiters”

About the topic: When the orbit of an exoplanet around a distant star passes in front of the star as seen from Earth, or “transits”, the decrease in starlight can be measured and plotted to form a light curve.  The depth, duration and shape of the light curve can be used to determine a number of features of the star-planet system such as the planetary radius and semi-major axis.  Further, the possibility of detecting new, unobserved exoplanets can be evaluated by measuring variations in the duration and interval between successive transits in what is called transit timing variation (TTV) analysis.  Performing TTV analysis requires transit observations over a baseline of several months to years, and are often accomplished by combining sets of ground based data.  If the variations in the transit duration and the timing of the midpoint of the transit vary from the predicted values in a periodic manner, the presence of an additional exoplanet or an exomoon can be inferred.

The goal of this thesis is to provide additional measurements for recently discovered exoplanets that will both help to constrain their orbital parameters and begin to build a dataset for TTV analysis that could reveal the existence of a new exoplanet.

About the presenter:   Sean McCloat is on-campus graduate student in the Space Studies department.  Before coming to UND in 2014, Sean worked at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium on Long Island, where he was responsible for writing, delivering and operating planetarium shows that took people to the edge of the Universe and back.  At UND, Sean worked with Caitlin Nolby on the High Altitude Ballooning program, participating in the 2015 Global Space Balloon Challenge.  He also volunteered at the Space Studies Observatory before becoming the observatory research assistant the following year.  Sean’s exoplanet expertise were bolstered by attending the 2016 Sagan Summer Exoplanet Workshop at Cal Tech in Pasadena, California and also enlisted the help of Dr. Carolina von Essen, the principal investigator of KOINet, a ground-based follow-up observing program for Kepler targets.  These steps have helped Sean gain the needed experience to execute the exoplanet thesis project he enrolled at UND to do.


******Those unable to attend in person may view the live webcast******

1) A live webcast which includes PowerPoint slides will be available here.

2) Via Adobe ConnectPro.  Sign in as a guest, or use your Connect-Pro log-in.