Thursday, September 22, 2022

Graduate Student Kristie Nault has been selected as a 2022 M. Hildred Blewett Fellow by the American Physical Society (APS).

The M. Hildred Blewett Fellowship is intended to "enable women to return to physics research careers after having had to interrupt those careers." Nault's fellowship is a one-year award of $45,000 facilitating her continued study of AG Draconis.

Affectionately known as "AG Dra," the system is actually a pair of stars -- a white dwarf and a red giant -- producing an intensely bright emission line spectrum in the X-ray and UV. Kristie's project will use data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope to try to untangle this spectroscopic puzzle and address whether the emission we observe is in the atmosphere of the white dwarf or created by shocks in the red giant's wind.

As the majority of stars will end their lives as white dwarfs and a significant chunk of stars exist in binary systems, Nault's study will delve into an expected common endpoint of stellar evolution, and address whether systems like AG Dra have attributes that make them appear rarer than they actually are in the sky. 

The M. Hildred Blewett Fellowship is an annual solicitation with applicants across the United States and beyond. More information on the Fellowship is available at the following link, while the APS's press release containing Kristie's bio can be found here.