Empirical Constraints on the Formation and Evolution of Low-Mass Stars and Brown Dwarfs: A Data-Intensive Approach

Dr. Keivan Stassun

Vanderbilt University

September 27, 2012

2:30 - 3:30am

Room 200 GCB


Recent and ongoing large surveys, both from the ground and from space, are enabling new data-intensive approaches to a variety of problems in stellar astrophysics. This talk describes four such projects, each serving as a vignette of a different but complementary mode of data-intensive research into low-mass star formation and evolution. The X10000 Project takes a panchromatic, time-domain approach to study the structures of young stellar coronae in order to understand the role of extreme coronal mass ejections in the angular momentum evolution of young stars. As a by-product of this work, we have determined the first robust empirical relationship between X-ray flare energy and coronal mass loss for the Sun. The SLoWPoKES project takes an ensemble, data-mining approach to extract from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey the largest sample of wide low-mass binaries ever assembled, which can be used to constrain binary formation theory and for refining the fundamental mass-age-activity-rotation-metallicity relations for low-mass stars. The EB Factory project takes a time-domain, data-mining approach to identify rare, but astrophysically very interesting, case studies from among the large numbers of eclipsing binaries being harvested by surveys for transiting exoplanets. Finally, the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT) project is finding the brightest transiting exoplanets which serve as fundamental benchmarks for understanding the physical properties of exoplanets and brown dwarfs. In each of these vignettes we will highlight the role of the emerging field of astro-informatics, with examples of newly developed algorithms and tools for data-intensive visualization and discovery.