Meredith L. Rawls, PhD

Developing software for a firehose of telescope data and using binary stars to study the cosmos

I am a postdoc working with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) Data Management group at the University of Washington. The LSST will collect frames for a decade-long movie of the sky beginning in 2022. My team develops software to process terabytes of nightly data. I'm also an active researcher in stellar astrophysics and a relentless science communicator.

My CV in PDF form is available here.

Software by and for astronomers

Astronomy has come a long way since sketching the view through a handheld telescope, and modern-day astronomers use a wide array of software to study digital images of the sky.

panoramic rendering of the finished LSST at Cerro Pachon in Chile

Things that go bump in the night

LSST's Data Management team at the University of Washington focuses on Alert Production. We are writing algorithms to process huge images from the LSST camera in real time, identify objects in the night sky that have changed, and issue an appropriate alert so these interesting targets can be followed up.
Learn more about our work here.

astronomers collaborating on programming around circular tables in a conference room

Building tools for the community

The software being designed for LSST images is open source and works with popular python packages like astropy. Astronomers worldwide can use our tools to analyze data from their favorite telescope too.
Check it out on github.

Stars are not always predictable

But when stars come in pairs (or more!), we can use them to reveal stellar secrets by observing how they orbit one another and vary in brightness.

cartoon of a red giant binary with oscillations being eclipsed by a main sequence star

Eclipsing binaries and asteroseismology

Because there are many more oscillating stars than eclipsing binary stars, I model binaries as a benchmark for measuring stellar properties with asteroseismology. My team recently discovered that many of the evolved red giants in binary systems don't oscillate at all, and I am investigating why.
Read about one particularly interesting binary here.

illustration of the portion of the sky APOGEE observed that includes the Kepler field

Pairing APOGEE and Kepler

I'm leading new research collaboration to identify and model eclipsing systems observed by both the Kepler space telescope and the APOGEE spectrograph here on Earth. This project is supported by SDSS-FAST, New Mexico State University, and the University of Washington.

Beyond research and programming

I am involved in a variety of important projects in addition to my work with LSST and stellar astronomy.

Publications

  • Testing the Asteroseismic Scaling Relations for Red Giants with Eclipsing Binaries Observed by Kepler
    P. Gaulme, J. McKeever, J. Jackiewicz, M. L. Rawls, et al. 2016, ApJ, 832, 121
  • Red Giants in Eclipsing Binaries as a Benchmark for Asteroseismology
    M. L. Rawls 2016, PhD Thesis
    Committee: J. Jackiewicz (chair), L. Boucheron, P. Gaulme, T. Harrison, & R. Walterbos
  • KIC 9246715: The Double Red Giant Eclipsing Binary With Odd Oscillations
    M. L. Rawls, P. Gaulme, J. McKeever, J. Jackiewicz, et al. 2016, ApJ, 818, 108
  • Red Giants in Eclipsing Binary and Multiple-Star Systems: Modeling and Asteroseismic Analysis of 70 Candidates from Kepler Data
    P. Gaulme, J. McKeever, M. L. Rawls, J. Jackiewicz, et al. 2013, ApJ, 767, 82
  • Refined Neutron Star Mass Determinations for Six Eclipsing X-Ray Pulsar Binaries
    M. L. Rawls, J. A. Orosz, J. E. McClintock, M. A. P. Torres, et al. 2011, ApJ, 730, 25
View my publications on ADS

CV