Catherine Clark

PhD Student

Catherine Clark
Stellar Astronomy
BSc University of Michigan, 2017

Catherine Clark is interested in the intersection between stellar astrophysics and astronomical instrumentation. Her research is focused on characterizing the smallest, coldest, faintest stars — known as M-dwarfs — using high-resolution imaging techniques. In particular, she uses speckle and long-baseline interferometry to imaging the smallest stars on the highest spatial scales. These techniques allow for the direct measurement of stellar multiplicity to better characterize not only the M-dwarfs themselves, but the planets that orbit them as well.

Clark began her academic career at the University of Michigan, where she earned her B.Sc. in Astronomy & Astrophysics, as well as Spanish. In 2017, she moved to Flagstaff to pursue her Ph.D. in Astronomy & Planetary Science at Northern Arizona University. She works as a Graduate Research Assistant under the supervision of Dr. Gerard van Belle at Lowell Observatory.

During her time in graduate school, Clark has produced the Pervasive Overview of Kompanions of Every M-dwarf in Our Neighborhood (POKEMON) speckle survey of nearby M-dwarfs. This survey has resulted in 1151 speckle observations of nearby M-dwarfs, as well as the detection of over 30 previously unresolved companions to these stars. Clark and Dr. van Belle have also designed, built, and commissioned the Quad-camera Wavefront-sensing Six-channel Speckle Interferometer (QWSSI) at the 4.3m Lowell Discovery Telescope (LDT). QWSSI is tailored to the optical properties of the LDT, and is finely tuned to studying our low-mass neighbors.

Currently, Clark is using speckle imaging to follow up low-mass, planet-hosting binary systems observed by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. She is also using the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) array to characterize M-dwarf multi-star systems at the smallest separations and the highest resolution available to ground-based astronomers.

Check out Clark’s webpage.