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Amgen Scholars: Announcements of Opportunity

Below are Announcements of Opportunity posted by Caltech faculty for the Amgen Scholars program.

Announcements of Opportunity are posted as they are received. Please check back regularly for new AO submissions! Remember: This is just one way that you can go about identifying a suitable project and/or mentor. For additional tips on identifying a mentor click here.

Please remember:

  • Students pursuing Amgen must be U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, or students with DACA status.
  • Students pursuing Amgen must complete the 10-week program from June 18 - August 23, 2024. Students must commit to these dates. No exceptions will be made.
  • Accepted students must live in provided Caltech housing.

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Project:  Searching for Circumbinary Planets Through Apsidal Precession
Disciplines:  Physics, Astronomy, Planetary Science, Computer Science, Math
Mentor:  Benjamin Montet, Senior Lecturer, (PMA),, Phone: +61 2 9065 3889
Mentor URL:  (opens in new window)
Background:  NOTE: This project is being offered by a Caltech alum and is open only to Caltech students. The project will be conducted at University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

About 15 planets have been discovered that, like Tatooine, orbit a binary star system. These have to date been found through transit photometry, in which the planets blocks the light of one or both host stars has it passes along our line of sight each orbit. However, these planets also can be detectable through their dynamical effects on the orbits of their stars over long (many year) timescales. We will investigate a large sample of binary stars observed over the past 20 years by multiple surveys to identify those with unexplained precession, in which their orbits are potentially being modulated by an unseen companion. These will form the basis for a large-scale survey to identify which of these systems host planets, hopefully leading to the discovery of many such systems.
Description:  The student will lead the analysis of time-series photometry data from TESS, KELT, ASAS-SN, and other large surveys. By measuring the relative timing of primary and secondary eclipses across these datasets, the student will search for systems with their orbit changing over the decades-long baseline of these missions. If time permits, the student will then undertake a detailed search for transits on these stars in TESS data or assist with scheduling spectroscopic observations of these systems to find planets and rule out more massive companions.
References:  TIC 172900988: A Transiting Circumbinary Planet Detected in One Sector of TESS Data;
Student Requirements:  Programming experience required, any language, python preferred
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    Caltech students only 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.

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