Ketron Mitchell-Wynne

University of California Irvine

PhD, Physics, 2016


A "third year" physics grad student. I was born in Carlsbad, California, grew up some in Tucson, Arizona, and earned a high school diploma from the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, with a concentrated training in classical ballet. I spent my tenth and final year as a classical ballet student training in the San Francisco Ballet school, before pursuing academics. When I'm not doing astrophysics research, I'm in or near the ocean.



My work is mostly concerned with using statistics to uncover astrophysical signals that reside below the actual noise threshold of telescopic instruments. This implies that the source populations I study are very faint and nearby, or extremely bright and far away. I'm more interested in the latter, so for my purposes the former is just contamination, which comes in the form of light scattered off galactic and solar system dust, and low-redshift galaxies (out to z ~ 5). We use a unique algorithm to minimize background noise and to generate large area mosaics with data from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). With these mosaics I've measured the angular power spectrum of the background light in 5 different HST bands. We applied model fits in order to disentangle the various emission components, including the foreground contaminants, and have extracted the signal from what we think were the first galaxies to form in the universe during the Epoch of Reionization. Cosmological theory suggests that these primordial first light galaxies are the progenitors to our Milky Way, and all other evolved galaxies.

I've also done work at longer wavelengths, at sub-millimeter with Herschel and in the radio regime with the VLA. While a graduate student at the University of Lisbon, I wrote a parallel tempering Markov chain Monte Carlo method to measure the galaxy number counts to one order of magnitude below the detector threshold of the VLA. In principle, the method we developed can be used for the planned Square Kilometer Array. That code is here.


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