Timothy J. Rodigas
High-contrast imaging of exoplanets and debris disks; dynamical models of planets interacting with disks; direct imaging of radial velocity companions
B.A., Astronomy, University of Virginia, 2008 M.S., Astronomy, University of Arizona, Department of Astronomy, 2010 Ph. D., Astronomy, University of Arizona, Department of Astronomy, 2013
Timothy Rodigas' research focuses on several areas relating to planetary systems and their circumstellar environments. He uses high-contrast imaging at near-infrared wavelengths to understand the compositions and morphologies of debris disks. Specifically, he is searching for the photometric/spectral signatures of water ice and/or organic materials--the building blocks of Earth-like life. To do this, he is using the recently-commissioned Magellan Adaptive Optics system (MagAO), along with Clio, its near-infrared imaging camera.
Rodigas is also interested in understanding the morphological signatures planets can create on debris disks as they interact dynamically. Specifically, he is trying to model debris rings interacting with planets to determine if the debris disk's structure can be used to estimate the mass and orbit of the planet. This may prove especially useful to observers as new debris disks and planets are discovered.
Finally, he is interested in combining two planet-detection techniques, radial velocity (RV) and direct imaging, to better characterize long-period companions. These objects are too distant to be fully detected by radial velocity in reasonable timeframes but can be more easily directly imaged. Such detections allow us to determine the object's true mass, which can then be used to refine atmospheric models that are essential for estimating the masses of directly detected exoplanets.