Watch: How Emily Rauscher Maps an Exoplanet’s Atmosphere

An astronomer at the University of Michigan and a 2022 Simons Fellow in Theoretical Physics, Emily Rauscher works to characterize the atmospheric properties of distant worlds.

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Emily Rauscher is an associate professor of astronomy at the University of Michigan and a 2022 Simons Fellow in Theoretical Physics. Prior to joining the University of Michigan, she completed a NASA Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Arizona and Princeton University, where she was also a Lyman P. Spitzer Jr. Postdoctoral Fellow. Rauscher earned her Ph.D. in astronomy from Columbia University and a B.A. in astrophysics and physics from the University of California, Berkeley.

Rauscher is a theoretical astrophysicist who studies exoplanets, particularly hot Jupiters. She uses a 3D atmospheric circulation numerical code to model the wind and temperature structures in exoplanet atmospheres, both to understand the exotic physical processes at play and to investigate how these complex properties influence various types of atmospheric measurements. Her group’s 3D model has been used to study physical processes such as radiatively active cloud species that form and dissipate as the simulation runs, and the influence of magnetic drag when the winds become weakly thermally ionized. Rauscher has studied how orbital phase curves can constrain the day-night differences around a planet, has pioneered eclipse mapping as a method to resolve 2D maps of exoplanet daysides, and is a leader in identifying how 3D atmospheric properties (including winds and rotation) influence high-resolution spectroscopic measurements. With the launch of JWST and the construction of Extremely Large Telescopes, the next generation of exoplanet atmospheric characterization measurements will require 3D models to correctly interpret the data, providing deep insight into the details of these extraordinary worlds.