Santiago, Chile

During the 2023 academic year, I had the amazing experience of being a US Fulbright Student and visiting researcher at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC)! I conducted a survey of active galactic nuclei in collaboration with the Institute of Astrophysics at PUC, the Chilean Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN)/Galaxy Extragalactic Survey (ChANGES), the Multi-Object Spectrograph Telescope (4MOST), and the Vera C. Rubin Observatory/Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).

In observing the centers of local galaxies, a tight connection has been shown to exist between supermassive black holes (SMBHs) and their host galaxies. Based on numeric simulations of the merging of galaxies, actively accreting supermassive black holes (which are referred to as active galactic nuclei, or AGN) are likely to play a foundational role in the evolution of the galaxies. Therefore, surveys of AGN are becoming an essential component of observational cosmology.

Almost all data relating to AGN spectra comes from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) or the Quasi-Stellar Object (QSO) samples which are largely from the perspective of the northern hemisphere; this leaves a new frontier of unexplored skies from the southern hemisphere ready to be explored.

My work used the existing static photometric catalogs that cover the southern hemisphere to narrow the sample selection for the 4MOST survey in 2023 so it is optimized to be applied to AGN projects. Data from this survey will be better and more complete allowing for a study of accretion physics at a scale not afforded by any previous survey. The level of quality will provide intensively sampled multi-color light curves of all AGN targets which would allow us to do a detailed temporal analysis of their optical SEDs (essentially, to ascertain how galaxies change over time).

Additionally, in collaboration with Radboud University (Netherlands), I was the first graduate student at the European Southern Observatory La Silla site to run the wide-field array of optical telescopes known as BlackGEM. The main objective of the telescopes is to search for and characterize the optical counterparts of gravitational wave detections. I took data on telescopes and collaborated with Radboud to optimize their in-person interface with the telescopes to improve data-taking.