BDNYC Co-Founder Awarded NSF CAREER Grant

The BDNYC team is thrilled to congratulate Dr. Jackie Faherty, who has been awarded a prestigious five-year CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation to develop and present the most complete map of our solar neighborhood ever generated.

Dr. Jackie Faherty

Three-dimensional astrophysical visualizations, such as the detailed structural map that Jackie and her fellow investigators have set out to create, not only speak scientific volumes to researchers, but inspire the general public as well. With the recent arrival of Astronomy mapping missions like the James Webb Space Telescope, present day astronomers are experiencing a rare moment in time for making revolutionary discoveries about our place in the Universe. “The area around our Sun is ripe for exploration by just looking for objects that move together,” Faherty notes.

Faherty’s CAREER grant project will examine families of stars, brown dwarfs (celestial objects more massive than planets but lighter than stars), and planets that are moving through the Galaxy together about 500 light years from the Sun. Some of these families of celestial objects are tightly bound, some loosely bound, some breaking apart, while others are just newly formed. The goal of this examination is to determine how these families form and evolve over time, which will address the fundamental questions about where stars come from and how they get there.

Once the structural map of the young solar neighborhood is complete, further educational materials will be created using the planetarium visualization tool OpenSpace. These materials will include short videos, long form talks, and planetarium lectures of cinematic quality that will be distributed and ingested by classrooms and informal science centers across the globe. Aside from the large reach that the data distribution, cinematic renderings, and planetarium lectures might have, the project will also incorporate New York City educators to bring this new data and the programming aspects of it to life.

Jackie is a senior scientist working jointly in the departments of Astrophysics and Education at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). She is a faculty member in the Richard Gilder Graduate School at AMNH, an adjunct professor in CUNY’s graduate center, and the co-founder of the Brown Dwarfs in New York City (BDNYC) research group. Her unique position at AMNH allows her to pursue scientific research at the forefront of exoplanet characterization studies while mentoring and advising education programs for students and the general public alike.

The entire BDNYC team is proud to congratulate Jackie on this prestigious award and wish her the best of luck with her CAREER grant project!