Exploring Exoplanets

Dr. Darin Ragozzine receives Career award to study exoplanets

In 2022, Dr. Darin Ragozzine was selected as a recipient of the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The CAREER award is the NSF’s most prestigious honor given to promising early-career faculty, to help kick-start their research with funding and recognition. Each year, roughly 400 CAREER awards are issued to outstanding early-career faculty. The award is granted based on their potential to both advance their field and act as a role model in research and education. 

Dr. Ragozzine has been conducting astronomy research at BYU since 2016. His current research focuses on computational astrophysics, where he studies planetary sciences and exoplanets. He is currently involved with a number of exciting, cutting-edge NASA projects, including New Horizons Kuiper Belt Extended Mission, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, and the James Webb Space Telescope. Dr. Ragozzine has worked with over 15 undergraduate and graduate students to publish several notable papers on his research. Prior to receiving the CAREER award, Dr. Ragozzine received the Young Scholar Award from the BYU College of Physical and Mathematical sciences. Dr. Ragozzine has not only contributed to research, but has also contributed to teaching at BYU. He wrote a textbook for the introductory astronomy class and led the restructuring of computational physics courses.  

Dr. Ragozzine’s research proposal, titled "CAREER: The True Mass-Radius-Period Distribution of Small Exoplanets," aims to improve the process of calculating exoplanet masses and similar characteristics by adopting a new, photodynamical model.  This model allows a larger breadth of data, including planetary cadence and light information, to be incorporated into mass calculations, yielding new and higher-accuracy measurements than previously possible.  His team expects to be able to provide at least 50 new mass calculations of exoplanets to the scientific community as a result of this work.  Additionally, he hopes to contribute to astrophysics education by creating an online repository of astronomy-related gifs and resources, and by contributing to the development of an exoplanet chapter in an astronomy textbook. 

Student authors: Taylor Kimball, Alexis Gibson, and Emma McClure 

News and Events

Image for Sommerfeldts Called as Mission Leaders
Professor Scott and Lisa Sommerfeldt in Missouri Independence Mission
Image for Sounding out the Deep: Traci Neilsen’s Trip to the North Atlantic
A recent research adventure took Dr. Traci Neilsen and two students to the North Atlantic Ocean. Neilsen, an associate professor of physics at BYU, and her team apply artificial intelligence to noises in the ocean to classify the seabed.
Image for Reveling in Uncertainty
Despite the inherent time constraints of engaging undergraduate and graduate students in research, Scott Bergeson enjoys teaching this “seek and find” principle to his students, a principle that has become his philosophy for life.
Image for BYU Acoustics Records Artemis Launch
A group of BYU students and professors gathered acoustical recordings of at the world’s most powerful rocket launch.
Image for Kent Gee Recognized by AIAA
Kent Gee is selected as Associate Fellow of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in their class of 2023
Image for West Mountain Observatory contributes to understand distant galaxy
BYU’s West Mountain Observatory was one of 37 ground-based telescopes throughout the world monitoring the active galaxy that is roughly 1 billion light years away.
Image for BYU Women in Physics Students Thrive at CUWiP
Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics provides support and opportunities for female BYU physics students
Image for New Faculty Member, Dr. Micah Shepherd
Dr. Micah Shepherd, Acoustic Physicist, joins faculty
Image for Nanoparticle Drug Delivery Using Magnetism
Dr. Karine Chesnel awarded Interdisciplinary Research Origination Grant