COSAM News Articles 2021 05 Undergraduate student elevates his Auburn experience analyzing data from the Hubble Space Telescope and preparing for a career researching exoplanets

Undergraduate student elevates his Auburn experience analyzing data from the Hubble Space Telescope and preparing for a career researching exoplanets

Published: 05/11/2021

By: Maria Gebhardt

“Through my opportunities in the Department of Physics, I am truly grateful that my Auburn experience is preparing me for a future career studying potentially habitable planets outside of our solar system,” said Johannes Allen.

Double majoring in Aerospace Engineering and Physics, Allen is the recipient of an Undergraduate Research Fellowship Award for the duration of Summer 2021 through Spring 2022.

Working with associate professor Dennis Bodewits in the Department of Physics, Allen will be using this award to understand more about Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 through observations taken across three weeks with the Hubble Space Telescope. This object is unique in our solar system, and because it could be an example of how comets evolve scientists have proposed several space missions to take a closer look at it.

“I will review and analyze data captured by Hubble to compare the different structures and features in the comet,” Allen explained. “I will also work on learning more about what drives and fuels the comet’s outbursts. At the time of our observations it was reported that a fragment of the comet may have broken off and the Hubble observations are the best chance of finding it.”

“I am looking forward to reviewing the literature surrounding Comet 29P with Dr. Bodewits this summer, so I can start thinking about writing my own article about the comet” Allen added. “He is always pushing me to make a contribution to the field of cometary science by completing my goal of being the primary author of a peer-reviewed journal article as an undergraduate.”

Once Allen graduates with his undergraduate degrees, he wants to pursue a doctorate degree in planetary science.

“What really stands out to me about Dr. Bodewits is how he reassures me that even though conducting research while taking on a full course load can be a challenge, I am still on track to be successful with my research. He is an enthusiastic mentor and he has made my experience at Auburn even more meaningful,” Allen said. “I know that I would not have had the same opportunities at other universities.”

 

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