Staff Profiles

Ricky Nilsson

Research Associate

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  • Education

      • Ph.D. in Astronomy at the Department of Astronomy, Stockholm University, Sweden, 2012
      • M.Sc. in Engineering Physics at Lund Institute of Technology, Lund University, Sweden, 2005
  • Research Interests

    Research Interests

      The general topic of my research up to now can be summarized as characterization of planetary systems, involving investigations of exo-Kuiper belts and extrasolar planets (exoplanets), using observational studies of thermal emission and scattering/polarization properties of dust grains, as well as direct imaging and recovery of spectra of young Jupiter-mass planets.

      My current work at the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History concerns direct imaging and spectroscopy of exoplanets with Project 1640. The last decade of observations of exoplanets has revealed planetary systems showing a great diversity in properties, with planetary parameters and configurations quite unlike that of the Solar System. However, important regions of the planet mass vs. separation parameter space remain unexplored due to technical limitations. Gas-giant planets of a few Jupiter-masses on orbits of 5–50 astronomical units (AU) around young stars in the solar vicinity are becoming directly observable with recent development of very high-contrast imaging techniques. The immediate aim of Project 1640 is to obtain images and low-resolution spectra of young (<1 Gyr) gas-giant planets (and brown dwarfs) around A- and F type stars within 75 parsec (pc) of the Sun, in order to characterize planetary systems around nearby stars. A methodical survey of system characteristics derived from direct imaging and spectroscopy of exoplanets is essential to obtain more complete statistics on system frequencies and properties, and a better understanding of planet formation and evolution. This is also a key step to future imaging of Earth-like exoplanets.

  • Publications