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Meredith Rawls

Research Assistant
Entered: 2010
Office: 110 Astronomy
Phone: (575)646-2107
Fax: (575)646-1602
 
E-mail: mrawls
(append "@nmsu.edu")
 
Photo
M.S.San Diego State University,2010
B.S. Harvey Mudd College, 2008

Find out more about me at my professional website     •     Check out my blog, AstronoMerrdiff     •     Follow me on twitter @merrdiff or connect on LinkedIn

I have a B.S. degree in Physics from Harvey Mudd College and a M.S. degree in Astronomy from San Diego State University.
I entered the Ph.D. program at New Mexico State University in August 2010, and advanced to candidacy in February 2014.

Research

My main research interest is using binary stars as tools to better understand how all stars live and evolve.
Beyond this, I am passionate about quality science education and public outreach for all ages, enjoy writing, and love watching people get excited about astronomy.

Graduate

Red Giants in Eclipsing Binaries as a Benchmark for Asteroseismology
My Ph.D. thesis explores how observations of eclipsing binaries containing a red giant star can be used as a benchmark for asteroseismic studies. I work with Kepler light curves, echelle spectra, and multiband photometry to create well-constrained photodynamical models and investigate why some of the red giants don’t oscillate when we think they should.

I began working with Jason Jackiewicz and Patrick Gaulme in the Solar, Stellar, and Exoplanet Research Group in 2012. Their expertise is asteroseismology, or more colloquially, starquakes. These oscillations are a window to the interiors of stars, which are otherwise invisible to observers. We are using light curves of eclipsing giant stars from the Kepler mission and ground-based spectra from Apache Point and Kitt Peak Observatories.

I spent the summer of 2011 in Bangalore, India as a participent in the IRES program at the Indian Institute for Astrophysics. While abroad, I became familiar with the binary modeling program PHOEBE and analyzed archival light curves of eclipsing binary stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud with advisor M. S. Rao. I also had the opportunity to visit observatories near Bangalore and eat lots of delicious food!

Refined Neutron Star Mass Determinations for Six Eclipsing X-Ray Pulsar Binaries
The topic of my M.S. thesis at San Diego State was determining neutron star masses in eclipsing X-ray binaries, with advisor Jerry Orosz. We used the Eclipsing Light Curve (ELC; see Orosz & Hauschildt 2000) numerical code to model six systems. Our technique allows an arbitrary number of input parameters to be included in an orbital solution. ELC also employs a key improvement over analytic methods: it uses Roche geometry with equipotential surfaces to more accurately model optical light curves and the X-ray eclipse duration. Our results show a clear distribution of neutron star masses that range from ~0.9–2 solar masses.

Undergraduate

My senior thesis at Harvey Mudd was titled Ups and Downs in the Life of a Cataclysmic Variable: The Long-Term Behavior of CM Phoenicis, completed with advisor Don Hoard. I combined optical and near-infrared photometry of an unusual cataclysmic variable star with optical spectroscopy to explore the secular evolution of an interacting binary star. Our analysis showed transitions between bright and faint states, and we classified CM Phe as a VY Scl-type system.

This work was complemented by a summer project at the Carnegie Observatories spent deriving photospheric chemical composition for metal-poor globular cluster stars from high resolution spectra. I traveled twice with Inese Ivans to Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, and took control of the Clay Magellan 6.5-meter telescope for two nights to obtain high-resolution optical spectroscopy.

I also assisted in the analysis of supernova light curves during a semester abroad at Moscow State University in Moscow, Russia. I have a basic understanding of the Russian language.

Publications

A Tale of Two Red Giants: Testing Asteroseismic Scaling Relations with KIC 9246715
Meredith L. Rawls, P. Gaulme, J. McKeever, J. A. Orosz, D. W. Latham, & J. Jackiewicz
2014, American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts, 223, #405.04

Red Giants in Eclipsing Binaries: Kepler Light Curves, Radial Velocities, and Asteroseismology
Meredith L. Rawls, P. Gaulme, J. McKeever, & J. Jackiewicz
2013, Giants of Eclipse, 40302

Red Giants in Eclipsing Binaries and Multiple-star Systems: Modeling and Asteroseismic Analysis of 70 Candidates from Kepler Data
Patrick Gaulme, J. McKeever, M. L. Rawls, J. Jackiewicz, B. Mosser, & J. A. Guziik
2013, The Astrophysical Journal, 767, 82

Red Giants in Eclipsing Binaries: First Look at Kepler Light Curves
Meredith L. Rawls, P. Gaulme, J. McKeever, & J. Jackiewicz
2013, American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts, 221, #142.16

Light Curve Solutions of Eclipsing Binaries in the Large Magellanic Cloud
Meredith L. Rawls & M. S. Rao
2012, American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts, 219, #153.41

Refined Neutron Star Mass Determinations for Six Eclipsing X-Ray Pulsar Binaries
Meredith L. Rawls, J. A. Orosz, J. E. McClintock, M. A. P. Torres, C. D. Bailyn, & M. M. Buxton
2011, The Astrophysical Journal, 730, 25

New Observations and Neutron Star Mass for the X-ray Binary 4U 1538-52
Meredith L. Rawls, J. A. Orosz, J. E. McClintock, M. A. P. Torres, C. D. Bailyn, & M. M. Buxton
2010, Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 42, #453.20

Time-resolved Photometry of Two New SU UMa Dwarf Novae: V466 Andromedae and OT J011306.7+215250
Allen W. Shafter, R. Babar, A. E. Burke, M. Fernandez, Z. R. J. Girazian, C. M. Heffner, S. Kadakia, D. A. Krogsrud, E. Marin, M. L. Rawls, & J. S. Rice
2009, Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 41, #491.08

Refining the Neutron Star Mass Determination in Six Eclipsing X-ray Pulsar Binaries
Meredith L. Rawls & J. A. Orosz
2009, Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 41, #410.03

Ups and Downs in the Life of a Cataclysmic Variable: The Long-Term Behavior of CM Phoenicis
Meredith L. Rawls, D. W. Hoard, & S. Wachter
2007, Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 39, #51.23

Curriculum Vitae

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