About

I grew up in Connecticut, outside of New York City, and attended Phillips Exeter Academy for high school. I have a Bachelor's in Astronomy and Astrophysics from Harvard University, a Master's in Physics from MIT, and both a Master's and Ph.D. in Astronomy from the Ohio State University.

As a graduate student at the Ohio State University under Scott Gaudi, I helped to begin the KELT survey for transiting planets. This led to us discovering the first nine KELT planets (some of which had nice write-ups in the New York Times, Scientific American, and on Space.com).

I am currently a member of the research faculty at University of Arizona as an assistant astronomer. At UA I'm a member of the NIRCam team, helping to prepare for the launch of JWST in 2021. Specifically, I'm working on how to use NIRCam to observe the atmospheres of exoplanets during the "first light" observations from JWST.

Previously, I was an assistant research professor at Pennsylvania State University. Before that I held a postdoctoral fellowship at Penn State's Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds (CEHW) working with Jason Wright.

Outside of astronomy, I enjoy skiing, sailing, rowing, and I have a general interest in history and science policy.

Research

My research focuses on observational studies of transiting exoplanets, from detection through to follow-up characterization of their atmospheres. In the next ten to twenty years it will be possible to detect and characterize an Earth-like planet with life, and the immediate goal of my research is to lay the groundwork for this event. I do this by developing and using innovative ground- and space-based techniques to observe giant exoplanets now, both to understand their atmospheres, and to develop and refine observing techniques for use with more challenging, smaller, targets.

I use a range of telescopes on the ground and space. I have observed with the relatively small (0.7m) MINERVA telescopes all the way up to the 8m Large Binocular Telescope, and with both the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes.

In graduate school, I was one of the primary architects of the KELT survey for transiting exoplanets. I was responsible for designing the planet search pipeline, and I began, and then ran, the survey's daily operations. This led to us discovering the first nine KELT planets, and I remain involved as a member of the core science team.

Since then, I have become focused on atmospheric studies of hot Jupiters and transiting brown dwarfs, often using the KELT planets. In particular, I work to interrelate the observed spectra of field brown dwarfs, transiting brown dwarfs, and hot Jupiters to better understand the roles played by stellar irradiation and surface gravity in setting atmospheric properties.

As a part of this work, I have become well-versed in Gaussian Process regression techniques and large-scale computing, both of which are necessary to accurately fit my observations.

At the University of Arizona I am a member of the NIRCam team, which built one of the four primary instruments for the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). I am working to develop the techniques and software necessary for NIRCam to observe the atmospheres of exoplanets, which is one of the main goals of the JWST program. Sometime in mid- to late-2021 this should culminate in our taking the first exoplanet atmosphere observations using NIRCam, as a part of the team's guaranteed-time observations.

Recent Publications

All of my publications, from ADS.

Contact

  • Email: tgbeatty@email.arizona.edu
  • Phone: (520) 621-2054
  • Office: Steward Rm. 256
Mailing address:
Dr. Thomas G. Beatty
Steward Observatory, Rm. 256
933 N. Cherry Ave
Tucson, AZ 85721

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