I am currently the leader of a Max Planck Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany. Before moving there, I was a Spitzer Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
One of my main interests is the study of the formation of stars and clusters throughout the Milky-Way Galaxy, and linking such studies - where individual young stars can be resolved most of the time - to other galaxies where we can often only view star forming regions as a whole.
I work with the large volumes of archival multi-wavelength data available for our own Galaxy, which includes many Galactic plane surveys, and model the data using radiative transfer techniques, which can be used to simulate observations of protostars, star forming clouds, or entire galaxies.
Listed below are a few of my key interests, along with some references and links if you are interested in finding out more!
I have developed a parallelized three-dimensional Monte-Carlo dust continuum radiative transfer code - Hyperion - that is described in detail in Robitaille et al., 2011. The code will be released as open source on GitHub in early 2012, but you can already sign up to a mailing list at hyperion-rt.org to be informed once it is available for download! I am already collaborating on a number of projects making use of this new code, from models of individual young stars, to models of whole galaxies.
Galactic Plane Surveys
GLIMPSE (pictured above) is a survey of hundreds of square degrees of the Galactic plane by the Spitzer Space Telescope. I was involved with producing the public release images for the GLIMPSE survey. You can browse the full-resolution images on this website, and you can download them at the original press release page.
Galactic census of forming Stars
Using the GLIMPSE survey, I carried out a census of young and evolved stars in the Galactic mid-plane (Robitaille et al., 2008). The result of this study was a sample of over 10,000 candidate forming stars in our Galaxy.
Spectral energy distribution modeling
In collaboration with Barbara Whitney, I computed a large grid of model spectral energy distributions of young (< 10Myr) stars with circumstellar disks and envelopes, and have developed a tool to rapidly fit these models to a given set of observations. This allows us to understand which physical parameters - such as stellar, disk, or envelope parameters - can be constrained. The models and the fitting tool are both publicly available. A new grid of models - addressing a number of issues with the current models - will be released in 2012.
I work on a number of software projects for Astronomy research. Most of these use the Python programming language. I am one of the coordinators of the Astropy project, which aims to create a core Python package for Astronomy. In addition, with Eli Bressert, we created the APLpy and ATpy packages, which allow users to produce publication quality plots of astronomical imaging data, and manipulate tables respectively. Finally, I have created many other open source packages for Astronomy - see my GitHub profile for more information!
I have been involved in the following press releases/featured stories:
- First "Bone" of the Milky Way Identified
- Spitzer Detects the 'Heartbeat' of Star Formation in the Milky Way Galaxy
- Baby Stars Finally Found in Jumbled Galactic Center
- Spitzer Captures Stellar Coming of Age in Our Galaxy
My PhD thesis is available here as a single (large) PDF file.
Publications (courtesy of ADS)
- All publications
- First author refereed publications
- First author non-refereed publications
- Google Scholar Profile
My contact details are available on the MPIA staff list.