Outer solar system
I developed a novel methodology for identifying trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) in the temporally sparse data taken by the Dark Energy Survey. These planetesimals are distant objects in the outskirts of our solar system, and their orbital architecture trace the formation history of the giant planets. As DES is not a solar system survey, this process is very challenging: we need to identify single-night transients (i.e. sources that only appear in one place in one night) and link detections into orbits, that are then confirmed by using images where the objects are not detected, but expected to be lurking below the detection threshold, by stacking such images. In the first four years (of six) of DES, I’ve identified 316 TNOs, with 139 of these being new discoveries. See Bernardinelli et al 2020 ApJS 247 32 for details. If you’re interested in our objects, you can download them in the journal or here.
With this data, I also examined our extreme trans-Neptunian objects, those with semi-major axes larger than 150 AU and perihelia larger than 30 AU. This particular type of object is interesting because they seem aligned, leading to the recent formulation of the Planet 9 hypothesis, a postulated giant planet very far from the Sun. Our analysis showed no statistically significant clustering, meaning that our objects can be explained without the need for an additional planet in the solar system. This analysis is presented in Bernardinelli et al 2020 Planet. Sci. J. 1 28.
Inside DES, I also worked with the characterization of the atmospheric turbulence correlation for DECam exposures in order to better understand astrometric errors on our images. Besides that, I conducted a careful study on the detection efficiency in the DES pipeline, leading to a significant improvement in the recovery efficiency and completeness of DES exposures.
During my undergraduate years, I worked with prof. Raul Abramo with cosmological applications of supernovae Ia. Our main goal was to develop an observational strategy for the S-PLUS variability/SNe survey. I also worked with measurements of the atmospheric extinction coefficient using all-sky images inside the S-PLUS collaboration.