Christine H. Chen
Phone: (410) 338-5087
Education:B.S., Physics, Caltech, 1996.
I am currently an Associate Astronomer (without Tenure) at STScI, specifically, an instrument scientist on JWST MIRI. I am interested in studying the evolution of gas and dust around young stars and hope to further our understanding of the origin and evolution of solar systems.
Circumstellar dust, within 100 AU of the central star, is warmed by stellar radiation, causing dust grains to emit black body radiation at mid infrared to submillimeter wavelengths (10 micron - 1 mm). High resolution images of the young main sequence stars beta Pic, HR 4796A and HD 141569, with ages 5-20 Myr, have revealed structures in the dusty disks surrounding these stars. The warp in the beta Pic disk, the central clearing in the HR 4796A disk and the gap in the HD 141569 disk lead us to believe that planets might be forming in these systems.
The Spitzer Space Telescope is a space-based infrared telescope in an Earth-trailing heliocentric orbit. It is able to study thermal emission from circumstellar dust grains. Since it is cryogenically cooled and slowly drifts away from Earth, Spitzer is ~100 times more sensitive than current ground based telescopes. The excellent sensitivity of Spitzer will allow us to discover new dusty circumstellar disks in which planets may have formed or may be forming and to characterize the properties (composition, size, and temperature) of the constituent dust grains.
Download IRS Spectra here
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