Stephanie T. Douglas

How Binary Companion Stars Impact Stellar Rotational Evolution
Contact information:
Fellowship status:
Starting year: 2017
Fellowship institution: Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)
Research Interests:

As an AAPF, I'm studying the relationship between a star's rotation period and the proximity of a companion. Observations of open clusters show that among stars of a given age, the rapid rotators tend to be binaries. This could be because of tidal effects acting over 0.01 - 10 billion years or interactions between the binary companion and the protoplanetary disk during the first 10 million years. Both effects would cause binary stars to rotate faster than single stars, thus affecting angular momentum evolution in the binary systems. I will combine rotation periods and binary orbital parameters to explain why rapidly rotating stars tend to be binaries. I will use photometry, spectroscopy, and light curves to identify candidate binaries as well as new radial velocity observations to measure orbits. These data will allow me to test how binary companions affect stellar rotation over time.

Education and Outreach Interests:

For the educational component of my work, I am developing inquiry-based activities to introduce middle school students to binary and exoplanet research. I will also advise undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds on projects related to binary and exoplanet research.