FAST Team: City University of New York, Hunter College — TDSS
Using TDSS to Examine the Magnetic Variability on the Coolest Stars
Students: Jean-Paul Ventura, Aurora Cid
SDSS collaborator: Sarah Schmidt
Each target in the main TDSS survey is selected based on photometric variability criteria, then follow-up spectra are obtained to understand the cause of variability. In the SDSS-III TDSS pilot survey, 1% of the sample (2310 objects) were variable M dwarfs, and those M dwarfs were more likely to show H-alpha in emission. The expansion of the M dwarf sample by an order of magnitude during the SDSS-IV TDSS main survey provides the opportunity to examine the differences between variability-selected and non-variable M dwarfs as a function of spectral type and Galactic height, probing the variability of M dwarfs with respect to both age and mass.
The Few-Epoch Spectroscopy (FES) component of TDSS probes spectroscopic variability through repeat observations of targets with previous spectroscopy. Through TDSS FES, we are obtaining spectra of ~1000 ultracool dwarfs previously observed in DR7 to examine the differences in their chromospheres using the Halpha emission line. Due to the timing of initial SDSS spectroscopy and TDSS, these observations provide a unique opportunity to examine variability on timescales of 1-10 years. Long-timescale variability may trace changes in the underlying magnetic field (similar to the solar cycle), providing constraints on the dynamo operating in these low-mass objects.
In addition to research and teaching, Professor Rice is committed to outreach and communicating science to the public. She presents public shows at the Hayden Planetarium at AMNH, organizes Astronomy on Tap (AoT) events at NYC bars, coordinates AoT locations worldwide, and co-founded the astronomy fashion blog STARtorialist. She is also co-author Astronomy Labs: A Concept-Oriented Approach, on a suite of 40 lab activities for introductory astronomy.
Professor Rice grew up in Rochester, NY and attended college at the University of Pittsburgh. She earned her Ph.D. at UCLA with Professor Ian S. McLean and was a postdoctoral researcher for two years with Rebecca Oppenheimer at the American Museum of Natural History before joining the faculty at the College of Staten Island.