D. E. Winget

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, United States

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Publications (301)858.06 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We report the discovery of 42 white dwarfs in the original Kepler mission field, including nine new confirmed pulsating hydrogen-atmosphere white dwarfs (ZZ Ceti stars). Guided by the Kepler-INT Survey (KIS), we selected white dwarf candidates on the basis of their U-g, g-r, and r-H_alpha photometric colours. We followed up these candidates with high-signal-to-noise optical spectroscopy from the 4.2-m William Herschel Telescope. Using ground-based, time-series photometry, we put our sample of new spectroscopically characterized white dwarfs in the context of the empirical ZZ Ceti instability strip. Prior to our search, only two pulsating white dwarfs had been observed by Kepler. Ultimately, four of our new ZZ Cetis were observed from space. These rich datasets are helping initiate a rapid advancement in the asteroseismic investigation of pulsating white dwarfs, which continues with the extended Kepler mission, K2.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016
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    ABSTRACT: We report our study of features at the observed red end of the white dwarf cooling sequences for three Galactic globular clusters: NGC 6397, 47 Tucanae and M 4. We use deep colour–magnitude diagrams constructed from archival Hubble Space Telescope (Advanced Camera for Surveys) to systematically investigate the blue turn at faint magnitudes and the age determinations for each cluster. We find that the age difference between NGC 6397 and 47 Tuc is 1.98$^{+0.44}_{-0.26}$ Gyr, consistent with the picture that metal-rich halo clusters were formed later than metal-poor halo clusters. We self-consistently include the effect of metallicity on the progenitor age and the initial-to-final mass relation. In contrast with previous investigations that invoked a single white dwarf mass for each cluster, the data show a spread of white dwarf masses that better reproduce the shape and location of the blue turn. This effect alone, however, does not completely reproduce the observational data – the blue turn retains some mystery. In this context, we discuss several other potential problems in the models. These include possible partial mixing of H and He in the atmosphere of white dwarf stars, the lack of a good physical description of the collision-induced absorption process and uncertainties in the opacities at low temperatures. The latter are already known to be significant in the description of the cool main sequence. Additionally, we find that the present-day local mass function of NGC 6397 is consistent with a top-heavy type, while 47 Tuc presents a bottom-heavy profile.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: Hot white dwarfs with carbon-dominated atmospheres (hot DQs) are a cryptic class of white dwarfs. In addition to their deficiency of hydrogen and helium, most of these stars are highly magnetic, and a large fraction vary in luminosity. This variability has been ascribed to nonradial pulsations, but increasing data call this explanation into question. We present studies of short-term variability in seven hot DQ white dwarfs. Three (SDSS J1426+5752, SDSS J2200-0741, and SDSS J2348-0942) were known to be variable. Their photometric modulations are coherent over at least two years, and we find no evidence for variability at frequencies that are not harmonics. We present the first time-series photometry for three additional hot DQs (SDSS J0236-0734, SDSS J1402+3818, and SDSS J1615+4543); none are observed to vary, but the signal-to-noise is low. Finally, we present high speed photometry for SDSS J0005-1002, known to exhibit a 2.1 d photometric variation; we do not observe any short-term variability. Monoperiodicity is rare among pulsating white dwarfs, so we contemplate whether the photometric variability is due to rotation rather than pulsations; similar hypotheses have been raised by other researchers. If the variability is due to rotation, then hot DQ white dwarfs as a class contain many rapid rotators. Given the lack of companions to these stars, the origin of any fast rotation is unclear -- both massive progenitor stars and double degenerate merger remnants are possibilities. We end with suggestions on future work that would best clarify the nature of these rare, intriguing objects.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2015 · The Astrophysical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: We present the serendipitous discovery of eclipse-like events around the massive white dwarf SDSS J152934.98+292801.9 (hereafter J1529+2928). We selected J1529+2928 for time-series photometry based on its spectroscopic temperature and surface gravity, which place it near the ZZ Ceti instability strip. Instead of pulsations, we detect photometric dips from this white dwarf every 38 minutes. Follow-up optical spectroscopy observations with Gemini reveal no significant radial velocity variations, ruling out stellar and brown dwarf companions. A disintegrating planet around this white dwarf cannot explain the observed light curves in different filters. Given the short period, the source of the photometric dips must be a dark spot that comes into view every 38 min due to the rotation of the white dwarf. Our optical spectroscopy does not show any evidence of Zeeman splitting of the Balmer lines, limiting the magnetic field strength to B<70 kG. Since up to 15% of white dwarfs display kG magnetic fields, such eclipse-like events should be common around white dwarfs. We discuss the potential implications of this discovery on transient surveys targeting white dwarfs, like the K2 mission and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015
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    ABSTRACT: We present observations of a new phenomenon in pulsating white dwarf stars: large-amplitude outbursts at timescales much longer than the pulsation periods. The cool (Teff = 11,010 K), hydrogen-atmosphere pulsating white dwarf PG 1149+057 was observed nearly continuously for more than 78.8 d by the extended Kepler mission in K2 Campaign 1. The target showed 10 outburst events, recurring roughly every 8 d and lasting roughly 15 hr, with maximum flux excursions up to 45% in the Kepler bandpass. We demonstrate that the outbursts affect the pulsations and therefore must come from the white dwarf. Additionally, we argue that these events are not magnetic reconnection flares, and are most likely connected to the stellar pulsations and the relatively deep surface convection zone. PG 1149+057 is now the second cool pulsating white dwarf to show this outburst phenomenon, after the first variable white dwarf observed in the Kepler mission, KIC 4552982. Both stars have the same effective temperature, within the uncertainties, and are among the coolest known pulsating white dwarfs of typical mass. These outbursts provide fresh observational insight into the red edge of the DAV instability strip and the eventual cessation of pulsations in cool white dwarfs.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2015
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    ABSTRACT: We present the Kepler light curve of KIC 4552982, the first ZZ Ceti (hydrogen-atmosphere pulsating white dwarf star) discovered in the Kepler field of view. Our data span more than 1.5 years with a 86% duty cycle, making it the longest pseudo-continuous light curve ever recorded for a ZZ Ceti. This extensive data set provides the most complete coverage to-date of amplitude and frequency variations in a cool ZZ Ceti. We detect 20 independent frequencies of variability in the data that we compare with asteroseismic models to demonstrate that this star has a mass M$_*$ > 0.6 M$_{\rm Sun}$. We identify a rotationally split pulsation mode and derive a probable rotation period for this star of 17.47 $\pm$ 0.04 hr. In addition to pulsation signatures, the Kepler light curve exhibits sporadic, energetic outbursts that increase the star's relative flux by 2-17%, last 4-25 hours, and recur on an average timescale of 2.7 days. These are the first detections of a new dynamic white dwarf phenomenon that we believe may be related to the pulsations of this relatively cool (T$_{\rm eff}$ = 10,860 $\pm$ 120 K) ZZ Ceti star near the red edge of the instability strip.
    Preview · Article · Jun 2015 · The Astrophysical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: We spectroscopically measure multiple hydrogen Balmer line profiles from laboratory plasmas to investigate the theoretical line profiles used in white dwarf atmosphere models. X-ray radiation produced at the Z Pulsed Power Facility at Sandia National Laboratories initiates plasma formation in a hydrogen-filled gas cell, replicating white dwarf photospheric conditions. Here we present time-resolved measurements of H$\beta$ and fit this line using different theoretical line profiles to diagnose electron density, $n_{\rm e}$, and $n=2$ level population, $n_2$. Aided by synthetic tests, we characterize the validity of our diagnostic method for this experimental platform. During a single experiment, we infer a continuous range of electron densities increasing from $n_{\rm e}\sim4$ to $\sim30\times10^{16}\,$cm$^{-3}$ throughout a 120-ns evolution of our plasma. Also, we observe $n_2$ to be initially elevated with respect to local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE); it then equilibrates within $\sim55\,$ns to become consistent with LTE. This supports our electron-temperature determination of $T_{\rm e}\sim1.3\,$eV ($\sim15,000\,$K) after this time. At $n_{\rm e}\gtrsim10^{17}\,$cm$^{-3}$, we find that computer-simulation-based line-profile calculations provide better fits (lower reduced $\chi^2$) than the line profiles currently used in the white dwarf astronomy community. The inferred conditions, however, are in good quantitative agreement. This work establishes an experimental foundation for the future investigation of relative shapes and strengths between different hydrogen Balmer lines.
    Full-text · Article · May 2015 · The Astrophysical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: We present an analysis of the binary and physical parameters of a unique pulsating white dwarf with a main-sequence companion, SDSS J1136+0409, observed for more than 77 d during the first pointing of the extended Kepler mission: K2 Campaign 1. Using new ground-based spectroscopy, we show that this post-common-envelope binary has an orbital period of 6.89760103(60) h, which is also seen in the photometry as a result of Doppler beaming and ellipsoidal variations of the secondary. We spectroscopically refine the temperature of the white dwarf to 12 330 ± 260 K and its mass to 0.601 ± 0.036 M⊙. We detect seven independent pulsation modes in the K2 light curve. A preliminary asteroseismic solution is in reasonable agreement with the spectroscopic atmospheric parameters. Three of the pulsation modes are clearly rotationally split multiplets, which we use to demonstrate that the white dwarf is not synchronously rotating with the orbital period but has a rotation period of 2.49 ± 0.53 h. This is faster than any known isolated white dwarf, but slower than almost all white dwarfs measured in non-magnetic cataclysmic variables, the likely future state of this binary.
    No preview · Article · May 2015 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    Preview · Article · Jan 2015 · The European Physical Journal Conferences
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    ABSTRACT: Our preliminary results from laboratory experiments studying white dwarf (WD) photospheres show a systematic difference between experimental plasma conditions inferred from measured H$\beta$ absorption line profiles versus those from H$\gamma$. One hypothesis for this discrepancy is an inaccuracy in the relative theoretical line profiles of these two transitions. This is intriguing because atmospheric parameters inferred from H Balmer lines in observed WD spectra show systematic trends such that inferred surface gravities decrease with increasing principal quantum number, $n$. If conditions inferred from lower-$n$ Balmer lines are indeed more accurate, this suggests that spectroscopically determined DA WD masses may be greater than previously thought and in better agreement with the mean mass determined from gravitational redshifts.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014
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    ABSTRACT: We carry out high-speed photometry on 20 of the shortest-period, detached white dwarf binaries known and discover systems with eclipses, ellipsoidal variations (due to tidal deformations of the visible white dwarf), and Doppler beaming. All of the binaries contain low-mass white dwarfs with orbital periods less than 4 hr. Our observations identify the first eight tidally distorted white dwarfs, four of which are reported for the first time here, which we use to put empirical constraints on the mass-radius relationship for extremely low-mass (<0.30 Msun) white dwarfs. We also detect Doppler beaming in several of these binaries, which confirms the high-amplitude radial-velocity variability. All of these systems are strong sources of gravitational radiation, and long-term monitoring of those that display ellipsoidal variations can be used to detect spin-up of the tidal bulge due to orbital decay.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · The Astrophysical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: We report the discovery of pulsations in the spectroscopic PG 1159 type pre-white dwarf SDSS J075415.12 + 085232.18. Analysis of the spectrum by Werner et al. indicated Teff = 120 000 ± 10 000 K, log g = 7.0 ± 0.3, mass ${\cal {M}}=0.52 \pm 0.02\,{\rm M}_{\odot }$, C/He = 0.33 by number. We obtained time series images with the SOAR 4.1 m telescope and 2.1 m Otto Struve telescope at McDonald Observatory and show the star is also a variable PG 1159 type star, with dominant period of 525 s.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: The Z Facility at Sandia National Laboratories [Matzen et al., Phys. Plasmas 12, 055503 (2005)] provides MJ-class x-ray sources that can emit powers >0.3 PW. This capability enables benchmark experiments of fundamental material properties in radiation-heated matter at conditions previously unattainable in the laboratory. Experiments on Z can produce uniform, long-lived, and large plasmas with volumes up to 20 cc, temperatures from 1–200 eV, and electron densities from 10 17–23 cc À1 . These unique characteristics and the ability to radiatively heat multiple experiments in a single shot have led to a new effort called the Z Astrophysical Plasma Properties (ZAPP) collaboration. The focus of the ZAPP collaboration is to reproduce the radiation and material characteristics of astrophysical plasmas as closely as possible in the laboratory and use detailed spectral measurements to strengthen models for atoms in plasmas. Specific issues under investigation include the LTE opacity of iron at stellar-interior conditions, photoionization around active galactic nuclei, the efficiency of resonant Auger destruction in black-hole accretion disks, and H-Balmer line shapes in white dwarf photospheres. V C 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Physics of Plasmas
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    ABSTRACT: We present a preliminary analysis of the cool pulsating white dwarf GD 1212, enabled by more than 11.5 days of space-based photometry obtained during an engineering test of the two-reaction-wheel-controlled Kepler spacecraft. We detect at least 19 independent pulsation modes, ranging from 828.2-1220.8 s, and at least 17 nonlinear combination frequencies of those independent pulsations. Our longest uninterrupted light curve, 9.0 days in length, evidences coherent difference frequencies at periods inaccessible from the ground, up to 14.5 hr, the longest-period signals ever detected in a pulsating white dwarf. These results mark some of the first science to come from a two-wheel-controlled Kepler spacecraft, proving the capability for unprecedented discoveries afforded by extending Kepler observations to the ecliptic.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · The Astrophysical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: We describe a portable CCD-based instrumentation system designed to efficiently undertake high time precision fast photometry. The key components of the system are (1) an externally triggered commercial frame-transfer CCD, (2) a custom Global Positioning System-derived time source and (3) flexible software for both instrument control and online analysis/display. Two working instruments that implement this design are described. The New Zealand-based instrument employs a Princeton Instruments (PI) 1k × 1k CCD and has been used with the 1 m telescope at Mt John University Observatory, while the other uses a newer 1k × 1k electron-multiplying CCD supplied by PI and is based at the University of Texas at Austin. We include some recent observations that illustrate the capabilities of the instruments.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2014 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: We report the discovery of two new pulsating extremely low-mass (ELM) white dwarfs (WDs), SDSS J161431.28+191219.4 (hereafter J1614) and SDSS J222859.93+362359.6 (hereafter J2228). Both WDs have masses <0.25 M⊙ and thus likely harbour helium cores. Spectral fits indicate these are the two coolest pulsating WDs ever found. J1614 has Teff = 8880 ± 170 K and log g = 6.66 ± 0.14, which corresponds to a ∼0.19 M⊙ WD. J2228 is considerably cooler, with a Teff = 7870 ± 120 K and log g = 6.03 ± 0.08, which corresponds to an ∼0.16 M⊙ WD, making it the coolest and lowest mass pulsating WD known. There are multiple ELM WDs with effective temperatures between the warmest and coolest known ELM pulsators that do not pulsate to observable amplitudes, which questions the purity of the instability strip for low-mass WDs. In contrast to the CO-core ZZ Ceti stars, which are believed to represent a stage in the evolution of all such WDs, ELM WDs may not all evolve as a simple cooling sequence through an instability strip. Both stars exhibit long-period variability (1184-6235 s) consistent with non-radial g-mode pulsations. Although ELM WDs are preferentially found in close binary systems, both J1614 and J2228 do not exhibit significant radial-velocity variability, and are perhaps in low-inclination systems or have low-mass companions. These are the fourth and fifth pulsating ELM WDs known, all of which have hydrogen-dominated atmospheres, establishing these objects as a new class of pulsating WD.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: Photometric observations of the cataclysmic variable EQ Lyn (SDSS J074531.92+453829.6), acquired from 2005 October to 2006 January, revealed high-amplitude variability in the range 1166-1290 s. This accreting white dwarf underwent an outburst in 2006 October, during which its brightness increased by at least five magnitudes, and it started exhibiting superhumps in its light curve. Upon cooling to quiescence, the superhumps disappeared and it displayed the same periods in 2010 February as prior to the outburst within the uncertainties of a couple of seconds. This behavior suggests that the observed variability is likely due to nonradial pulsations in the white dwarf star, whose core structure has not been significantly affected by the outburst. The enigmatic observations begin with an absence of pulsational variability during a multi-site campaign conducted in 2011 January-February without any evidence of a new outburst; the light curve is instead dominated by superhumps with periods in the range of 83-87 minutes. Ultraviolet Hubble Space Telescope time-series spectroscopy acquired in 2011 March reveals an effective temperature of 15,400 K, placing EQ Lyn within the broad instability strip of 10,500-16,000 K for accreting pulsators. The ultraviolet light curve with 90% flux from the white dwarf shows no evidence of any pulsations. Optical photometry acquired during 2011 and Spring 2012 continues to reflect the presence of superhumps and an absence of pulsations. Subsequent observations acquired in 2012 December and 2013 January finally indicate the disappearance of superhumps and the return of pulsational variability with similar periods as previous data. However, our most recent data from 2013 March to May reveal superhumps yet again with no sign of pulsations. We speculate that this enigmatic post-outburst behavior of the frequent disappearance of pulsational variability in EQ Lyn is caused either by heating the white dwarf beyond the instability strip due to an elevated accretion rate, disrupting pulsations associated with the He II instability strip by lowering the He abundance of the convection zone, free geometric precession of the entire system, or appearing and disappearing disk pulsations.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2013 · The Astronomical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: We announce the discovery of the most massive pulsating hydrogen-atmosphere white dwarf (WD) ever discovered, GD 518. Model atmosphere fits to the optical spectrum of this star show it is a 12, 030 ± 210 K WD with a log g =9.08 ± 0.06, which corresponds to a mass of 1.20 ± 0.03 M ☉. Stellar evolution models indicate that the progenitor of such a high-mass WD endured a stable carbon-burning phase, producing an oxygen-neon-core WD. The discovery of pulsations in GD 518 thus offers the first opportunity to probe the interior of a WD with a possible oxygen-neon core. Such a massive WD should also be significantly crystallized at this temperature. The star exhibits multi-periodic luminosity variations at timescales ranging from roughly 425 to 595 s and amplitudes up to 0.7%, consistent in period and amplitude with the observed variability of typical ZZ Ceti stars, which exhibit non-radial g-mode pulsations driven by a hydrogen partial ionization zone. Successfully unraveling both the total mass and core composition of GD 518 provides a unique opportunity to investigate intermediate-mass stellar evolution, and can possibly place an upper limit to the mass of a carbon-oxygen-core WD, which in turn constrains Type Ia supernovae progenitor systems.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · The Astrophysical Journal Letters
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    ABSTRACT: We have finally measured the evolutionary rate of cooling of the pulsating hydrogen atmosphere (DA) white dwarf ZZ Ceti (Ross 548), as reflected by the drift rate of the 213.13260694 s period. Using 41 yr of time-series photometry from 1970 November to 2012 January, we determine the rate of change of this period with time to be dP/dt = (5.2 ± 1.4) × 10–15 s s–1 employing the O – C method and (5.45 ± 0.79) × 10–15 s s–1 using a direct nonlinear least squares fit to the entire lightcurve. We adopt the dP/dt obtained from the nonlinear least squares program as our final determination, but augment the corresponding uncertainty to a more realistic value, ultimately arriving at the measurement of dP/dt = (5.5 ± 1.0) × 10–15 s s–1. After correcting for proper motion, the evolutionary rate of cooling of ZZ Ceti is computed to be (3.3 ± 1.1) × 10–15 s s–1. This value is consistent within uncertainties with the measurement of (4.19 ± 0.73) × 10–15 s s–1 for another similar pulsating DA white dwarf, G 117-B15A. Measuring the cooling rate of ZZ Ceti helps us refine our stellar structure and evolutionary models, as cooling depends mainly on the core composition and stellar mass. Calibrating white dwarf cooling curves with this measurement will reduce the theoretical uncertainties involved in white dwarf cosmochronometry. Should the 213.13 s period be trapped in the hydrogen envelope, then our determination of its drift rate compared to the expected evolutionary rate suggests an additional source of stellar cooling. Attributing the excess cooling to the emission of axions imposes a constraint on the mass of the hypothetical axion particle.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2013 · The Astrophysical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: We present the discovery of photometric variability in the DQ white dwarf SDSS J103655.39+652252.2 (SDSS J1036+6522). Time-series photometry reveals a coherent monoperiodic modulation at a period of 1115.64751(67) s with an amplitude 0.442% ± 0.024%; no other periodic modulations are observed with amplitudes 0.13%. The period, amplitude, and phase of this modulation are constant within errors over 16 months. The spectrum of SDSS J1036+6522 shows magnetic splitting of carbon lines, and we use Paschen-Back formalism to develop a grid of model atmospheres for mixed carbon and helium atmospheres. Our models, while reliant on several simplistic assumptions, nevertheless match the major spectral and photometric properties of the star with a self-consistent set of parameters: T eff ≈ 15, 500 K, log g ≈ 9, log (C/He) = –1.0, and a mean magnetic field strength of 3.0 ± 0.2 MG. The temperature and abundances strongly suggest that SDSS J1036+6522 is a transition object between the hot, carbon-dominated DQs and the cool, helium-dominated DQs. The variability of SDSS J1036+6522 has characteristics similar to those of the variable hot carbon-atmosphere white dwarfs (DQVs), however, its temperature is significantly cooler. The pulse profile of SDSS J1036+6522 is nearly sinusoidal, in contrast with the significantly asymmetric pulse shapes of the known magnetic DQVs. If the variability in SDSS J1036+6522 is due to the same mechanism as other DQVs, then the pulse shape is not a definitive diagnostic on the absence of a strong magnetic field in DQVs. It remains unclear whether the root cause of the variability in SDSS J1036+6522 and the other hot DQVs is the same.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · The Astrophysical Journal

Publication Stats

5k Citations
858.06 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1983-2015
    • University of Texas at Austin
      • Department of Astronomy
      Austin, Texas, United States
  • 2014
    • Iowa State University
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      Ames, Iowa, United States
  • 2009
    • University of Delaware
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      Newark, DE, United States
  • 2008
    • Siena College
      Troy, New York, United States
  • 2006-2008
    • Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
      • Instituto de Física
      Porto Alegre, Estado do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
    • Purdue University
      • Department of Physics
      West Lafayette, Indiana, United States
  • 2007
    • Victoria University of Wellington
      • School of Chemical and Physical Sciences
      Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
    • Southwestern University
      Georgetown, Texas, United States
  • 1979-2006
    • University of Rochester
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      Rochester, New York, United States
  • 2002
    • University of Victoria
      Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • 1998-2000
    • University of Texas System
      Austin, Texas, United States
    • University of Leicester
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      Leiscester, England, United Kingdom
  • 1981-1995
    • Université de Montréal
      • Department of Physics
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada
  • 1990
    • University of Pretoria
      Πρετόρια/Πόλη του Ακρωτηρίου, Gauteng, South Africa
  • 1986
    • University of Colorado at Boulder
      Boulder, Colorado, United States