My Blog

  • New Astrobites Post: Why are Sub-Neptunes so Abundant?

    Here it is…my final new post for Astrobites…wow, how has it been two years?? What a wonderful ride it’s been. I’m so grateful for this collaboration – for the friendships and connections, for the writing experience, and for the chance to learn about astronomy in ways I might not have been able to.

  • New Astrobites Post: Tips for Conquering Procrastination

    Another month, another new post for Astrobites!

    This post is actually a bunch of tips for overcoming mental blocks that keep you from getting things done. And it was all inspired by this tweet:

  • New Astrobites Post: Measuring the Winds on Jupiter and Saturn Using Gravity

    Here’s a new post for Astrobites!. The authors of today’s paper used gravity measurements from the NASA missions Juno and Cassini (orbiting Jupiter and Saturn, respectively) to calculate how deep winds penetrate into each planet. Read the full post to find out how they did it!

  • New Astrobites Post: Chomospheric Cannonballs on the Sun

    Here’s a new post for Astrobites!. This one covers a newly-discovered phenomenon on the Sun, playfully named “cannonballs.” The best part? They join other phenomena like “spicules,” “anemone jets,” and “Ellerman bombs” (which are also known as Severny moustaches)!

  • New Astrobites Post: The Boundary Between 'Icy' and 'Gassy' Giant Planets

    Due to technical difficulties with the Astrobites server, this post is currently among those that were lost (but hopefully will be recovered). Thankfully, AAS Nova reposted this post – you can read it here.

    Here’s my May post for Astrobites!

  • New Astrobites Post: Measuring the Expanding Universe with Binary Black Holes

    It’s been a minute, but I have another new post up on Astrobites!

    This latest post describes how some talented colleagues of mine, Marcelle Soares-Santos and Antonella Palmese, led efforts to measure how fast the universe is expanding using the collision of two black holes measured by LIGO. This is an important measurement because this particular method is completely independent of other previous methods. Previous methods have relied on electromagnetic signals, such as from a specific type of supernova (Type Ia) or the Cosmic Microwave Background, but these methods are currently in tension with each other. Measuring the expansion rate of the universe using binary black holes will be able to tell us which, if either is right!

  • Covering the 233rd AAS Meeting as an Astrobites Author

    aas233 banner

    I recently spent a week in beautiful (read: gray and rainy) Seattle, WA for the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society. While I did have a science talk to present, much of my participation at the meeting was as an Astrobites author. I was actually really grateful to be there as part of Astrobites because this was the largest meeting I had ever been to. It was nice to have a “home base” at the Astrobites booth amid the 3000-person conference.

  • New Astrobites Post: Colors of Kuiper Belt Objects Reveal Their Histories

    Another month, another post for Astrobites!

    For today’s post, I wrote about a paper published by the Colors of the Outer Solar System Origins Survey team. They compiled a collection of 229 Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) that all have well-measured colors. By “color,” I mean that the astronomers obtained images of the KBOs in three different wavelength filters, and since the objects might not reflect the same amount of light in each filter, the difference between the three measurements gives an idea of the “color.” Just like how plants appear green because most of the light they reflect is green light.

  • New Astrobites Post: A Binary Jupiter Trojan Reveals the Solar System's Early History

    My latest post for Astrobites is now live!

    In this post, I reviewed a paper that studied a peculiar binary asteroid system called (617) Patroclus-Menoetius that orbit around the Sun in a similar path as Jupiter (just 60 degrees behind Jupiter in its orbit). Binary systems contain two similarly-sized objects in orbit around a mutual center of mass (think more along the lines of Pluto and Charon, rather than the Earth and Moon). Binary asteroids are interesting because they’re likely some of the oldest relics in the Solar System.

  • New Astrobites Post: Using Simulations to Predict the Solar Corona

    My latest post for Astrobites is now live!

    For the paper I covered, I got to relive a little bit of the amazing experience that was the 2017 total solar eclipse (I wrote another blog post about it here). Total solar eclipses provide us with rare opportunities to study parts of the Sun that are otherwise completely outshone – namely, the corona. The authors of the paper used observations of the Sun’s magnetic fields in the weeks leading up to the eclipse to try to predict what the corona would look like on the day of the eclipse – in other words, they were trying to predict space weather!

  • New Guest Blog Post: Incentivizing #scicomm for Early Career Scientists

    I recently wrote a blog post for the Union of Concerned Scientists as part of their annual Early Career Scientists (ECS) Month. As an ECS myself, and as a passionate science communicator, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about – providing more incentives for ECS to participate in science communication and outreach.

  • New Astrobites Post: The Milky Way Used to Have a Sister Galaxy

    My newest Astrobites post is live!

    This post was extra fun to write because the authors of the paper I covered work right down the hall from me in the University of Michigan Astronomy department! (No conflicts of interest though, my work has nothing to do with theirs.)

    The authors compared a variety of observations of the Andromeda galaxy and its weirdly compact elliptical companion, M32, to results of simulations they had run. They found that M32 was likely much, MUCH bigger about 2 billion years ago, right before Andromeda consumed it. In fact, we now think that M32 used to be the third largest galaxy in our nearby cosmic neighborhood! Talk about a big meal (for Andromeda, that is).

  • New Astrobites Post: Interviewing Keivan Stassun

    Yet another post for Astrobites!

    This one is another interview of a keynote speaker at the upcoming American Astronomical Society meeting in Denver, CO. I got to talk to Keivan Stassun about his work studying exoplanets and about his inspiring work on neurodiversity. He was such a fun person to talk to, and I hope you’ll check out the post!

  • New Astrobites Post: Interviewing Debra Fischer

    Another day, another new post over on Astrobites!

    This was a different kind of piece than I’ve ever done before. Most things I’ve written have been summaries – of a conference, of a paper, of something I read. But this time, I got to interview the inspiring Debra Fischer, who is trying to find new Earth-like planets around other stars. I had so much fun talking to her!

    Not only is she a successful #womaninSTEM, but her story is simply inspiring. Go take a read!

  • New Astrobites Post: Gender Gap in Telescope Proposal Success

    I wrote a new post over on Astrobites that went live today!

    As a woman in STEM, this one hits home. The paper I wrote about today took data from ten recent Canadian telescope proposal cycles. Essentially, if you want to use a telescope, you have to make your case and convince the Time Allocation Committee (TAC) that they should give you time over someone else. The authors of the paper I wrote about found large disparities in the number of successful proposals for men vs. women. They even further broke the data into faculty vs. non-faculty, senior vs. non-senior people in astronomy, and several other categories. They generally found the same trends no matter how they sliced the data.

  • New Astrobites Post: STEVE

    My new post for Astrobites is now live!

    This one was fun to write, partly because the naming of this phenomenon is one of my favorite stories. If you’ve ever seen the 2006 movie “Over the Hedge” you might remember the scene where the animals first encounter the big, scary hedge. To make it less scary, they name it Steve. Now fast-forward to 2016, when some amateur astronomers in northern Canada spotted a new, unknown type of aurora. For lack of a better name, they called it “Steve” in the spirit of the 2006 movie.

  • New Astrobites Post: Imposter Syndrome

    I wrote a new post for Astrobites that went live today!

    This post covers a topic that I’ve struggled a lot with and that is very common among graduate students: imposter syndrome. That voice in your head telling you you’re not good enough, not qualified, just “faking it” through everything. This post was inspired by Valerie Young’s book “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women.”. In it, I summarize some of the ways imposter syndrome can manifest and what you can do to start tackling that inner voice.

  • New Astrobites Post: A Cosmic Challenge

    My new post over on Astrobites is live!

    The paper I wrote about outlines a challenge for astronomers to produce the best code possible for estimating the local expansion rate of the universe (also called H0). Challengers will start with samples of gravitationally-lensed galaxies, and from those they’ll have to work out the H0 of each sample. Only the challenge creators know what the right answer is! The ultimate goal of this challenge is to create the best code possible ahead of LSST, which is going to produce an unimaginable amount of data during its 10-year run.

    Go take a read, and let me know what you think!

  • Guest Blog Post! Summarizing How the Planet Nine Debate Has Evolved

    I recently had the exciting opportunity to write a blog post for Emily Lakdawalla of The Planetary Society!

    The post summarizes a session at the recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Science in Provo, Utah. Specifically, the session was all about the mysterious (and still hypothetical) new planet proposed in the outer solar system. To learn more, go check out the post!

  • Day to Night and Back Again: The Great American Eclipse

    Just…wow. I feel like I’ve been saying this for the past several years with all of the amazing traveling I’ve been fortunate to do during my physics career, but this was honestly one of the coolest experiences I’ve had. There are simply no words to describe witnessing a total solar eclipse, but I’ll try my best anyway!

    I’ve witnessed a couple of partial eclipses in the past, but being present for a total solar eclipse was a top item on my bucket list. I had been anticipating the eclipse of August 21, 2017 for years, and I knew I had to be in the path of totality when the time finally came.

  • Astronomy, Telescopes, and Bears, Oh My! (Part 3)

    Welcome to Part 3 of my blog series documenting my amazing time as an instructor of a ground-based astronomy course based at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, AZ! If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, be sure to head over there and check out those posts! If you haven’t browsed through my photo album of the trip, you should do that also! Enough chatter, let’s get to the post.

  • Astronomy, Telescopes, and Bears, Oh My! (Part 2)

    Welcome to Part 2 of my blog series documenting my amazing time as an instructor of a ground-based astronomy course based at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, AZ! If you missed Part 1, be sure to head over there and check out that post before you jump into this one! If you haven’t browsed through my photo album of the trip, you should do that also! And without further ado…

  • Astronomy, Telescopes, and Bears, Oh My! (Part 1)

    ….ok, I never actually saw the bear….but we were thoroughly warned before (and after) we arrived at the mountain that there was a resident black bear roaming the premises. And I can confirm that the bear was sighted during the time we were there, though not by anyone in our group.

    This May, I had the fantastic opportunity to travel to Kitt Peak National Observatory, located about 50 miles southwest of Tucson, AZ, to teach a great group of undergraduates about ground-based observatories. Over the course of four short weeks, the students developed a science idea to test, wrote a telescope observing proposal based on that idea, took their own data using two telescopes at Kitt Peak, reduced and analyzed the data, and presented their results.

  • Hello!

    Hi! I’m Stephanie, a high-energy-physicist-turned-astronomer working toward my Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. I’ve had a non-linear path to becoming an astronomer, even though astronomy has been my passion since about the sixth grade. Better late than never, right?

    I’ve come to find myself studying the Solar System, and more specifically the small objects that orbit within a donut-shaped ring farther out than Neptune. While this isn’t what I’d pictured myself studying when I began graduate school, I honestly wouldn’t want to be studying anything else!