I am interested in several topics related to extrasolar planets (exoplanets), their atmospheres, and stars similar to the Sun (solar twins).
Atmospheric escape and outflows
Most of the exoplanets discovered to date are hot. Very hot. They receive tens to thousands of times more irradiation than the Earth receives from the Sun. And many of them have thick atmospheres mostly made of light elements, such as hydrogen and helium. In these conditions, hot and thick atmospheres literally boil off to space, and can dramatically alter the appearance and composition of the planet. But even temperature planets like the Earth lose part of their atmospheres to space as well, although less intensively.
One of my research branches consists on observing this phenomenon, which is also known as atmospheric escape. Among my discoveries, I found that the temperate mini-Neptune K2-18 b displays a signature of a large hydrogen exosphere around it, possibly fed by atmospheric escape.
Evolution of exoplanets
The most common types of planets we have found so far are what we call super-Earths and sub-Neptunes. As their names imply, these are worlds whose sizes vary between that of Neptune and the Earth. Since we do not have any examples of this type of planet in the Solar System, the nature of these worlds is a mystery.
We believe these planets are prone to losing a significant part of their atmospheres, causing them to “evaporate” and shrink as they age. This evolution is one of the most exciting areas of research in exoplanetary science. I am interested in observing and modeling the process of evaporation. Among my publications, I have shown that the warm Neptune-sized planet HAT-P-11 b is stable against photoevaporation.
I have been doing astronomical spectroscopy since 2013, it is my bread and butter. I am particularly interested in spectral time series, spectral extraction, and transmission spectroscopy of exoplanetary atmospheres. Nowadays, I mostly use the Hubble Space Telescope in my research, but I have also experience with ground-based, high-resolution spectrographs, such as ESO/HARPS and Keck/NIRSPEC. In the future, I am looking forward to exploring atmospheres of other worlds using the James Webb Space Telescope and the giant telescopes in Chile.
I studied the Sun and solar twins mostly during my Master’s. My project focused on their rotational evolution, and how that ties into other planetary systems similar to the Solar System. I am still involved with research projects on this subject, particularly on high-precision spectroscopy using ground-based spectrographs.