Aarynn L. Carter

Postdoctoral Scholar
University of California, Santa Cruz

I am an astronomer focused on detecting and characterising exoplanets through both direct and indirect observational techniques. At present, my primary research focus is exoplanet science in the era of JWST, and I am particularly interested in the advantages it will provide with respect to the direct imaging of sub-Jupiter mass exoplanets. My overarching goal in research is to improve the global understanding of planetary formation and evolution by detecting exoplanets in previously unexplored regions of parameter space, and by characterising exoplanet atmospheres across the known population.

Prior to taking my postdoctoral position at UC Santa Cruz, I worked with Prof. Sasha Hinkley and Prof. David Sing at the University of Exeter, UK, where I worked on producing the most accurate simulations of JWST coronagraphic performance to date, as well as state-of-the-art observational atmospheric characterisations of transiting hot Jupiters. I studied physics as an undergraduate at the University of Warwick, UK, and my undergraduate thesis focused on identifying stellar flares in archival WASP data.

CV & Publications

Research Highlights

The First Direct Images of an Exoplanet with JWST

The first scientific observations in JWST's coronagraphic modes, providing the first images of an exoplanet with JWST, and the first image of an exoplanet beyond 5 μm. These observations demonstrate that JWST is exceeding its predicted performance, and presents a unique opportunity to study directly imaged exoplanets in greater detail.

Identification of CO2 in an Exoplanet Atmosphere

The first definitive detection of carbon dioxide in an exoplanet atmosphere as obtained from JWST NIRSpec PRISM transit spectroscopy from 1-5 μm. The wavelength coverage and resolution offered by JWST as demonstrated in this observation are a dramatic improvement from similar observations in the near-infrared from Hubble and Spitzer.

An Update to PanCAKE

PanCAKE is a Python package designed to produce accurate simulations of JWST coronagraphic imaging performance. This update greatly improves on the functionality and usability of PanCAKE, making it much more accessible for a general user.

Imaging planets with JWST

A definitive assessment of the anticipated sensitivity of JWST towards the direct imaging of exoplanets prior to its launch. Across a sample of stars in young moving groups, we demonstrate that JWST will be readily able to image sub-Jupiter/sub-Saturn mass planets for the first time.

The Atmosphere of WASP-6 b

A comprehensive look at the transmission spectrum of the hot Jupiter exoplanet WASP-6 b, making use of range of observatories including Hubble, VLT, Spitzer, and TESS. These observations revelead clear evidence for absorption from H2O, Na, and K, in addition to the presence of a scattering haze.

Contact Me

See the sidebar for links to my Email, Publications, GitHub and Twitter. Alternatively, feel free to reach out through the form below if you have a question. I look forward to answering you!