Exploding stars and the Accelerating Universe
My work primarily deals with supernova, specifically type Ia supernova. Type Ia's have been shown and used as "standard candles", an astronomical meter stick to measure how fast the universe is accelerating. The use of them as standard candles has revolutionized modern cosmology, as per the discovery of the High Z Supernova Team and the Supernova Cosmology Project.
As a result of their beneficial use, many supernova surveys were started in order to dive deeper into the cosmological realm. However, many complications have arisen as a result of this technigue. Little is clearly known of the exact cause of a Ia and the environments of the supernova.
My main focus is on the galaxies that the supernova occur in. The host galaxy of a supernova has a big impact on its formation and its use as a standard candle. The area in which the supernova occurs is of critical importance since a galaxy is not uniform in properties. It is imperative to understand that factors of the galaxy that influence the SN Ia since these are the direct cause of the problems that we are encoutering now with the use as standard candles. The dust at the location of the SN Ia and of the whole galaxy directly impede our measurements of the supernova. In addition, since every galaxy is unigue, its contents and metallicity will vary and as a result so will the supernovaes. These and many more factors are what I am working on understanding and trying to characterize in order to improve our use of type Ia's as probes of the Universe.