Jen Winters, PhD

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
60 Garden Str., P351
Cambridge, MA 02138
Office: 617.496.7952
email: jennifer (dot) winters (at) cfa (dot) harvard (dot) edu

Curriculum Vitae (updated April 25, 2018)

The background image is a long integration of the South Celestial Pole taken by Matthias Dietrich from CTIO.


Who I Am

I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics working with David Charbonneau and the MEarth group. I completed my PhD under the guidance of Todd Henry at Georgia State University where part of my thesis project was determining the stellar multiplicity of nearby M dwarfs (see my dissertation and REDDOT below).

The background image is the view of the Chilean Andes taken from the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory by JGW.


The Science That I Do

My primary research interest is characterizing the nearby population of M dwarfs, with a focus on their multiplicity (how many are found in systems of one, two, three, and more stars). By precisely measuring stars' positions (astrometry), astronomers can determine their trigonometric distances, while photometric techniques enable the measurements of their brightnesses. Combining these two methods enable inferences to be made about the ages, compositions, and multiplicity of these low-mass stars. My post-doctoral work consists of using high resolution techniques to discover stellar companions at very small separations from their primary M dwarfs, as well as using MEarth data to further explore the nearby red dwarf multiple population.

The background image is an artist's rendition of a hypothetical planet orbiting an M dwarf. Image Credit: David A. Aguilar, CfA.



REDDOT is a project to definitively determine the stellar multiplicity of nearby M Dwarfs. We define M Dwarfs as those stars with masses 0.64 - 0.075 times the mass of our Sun. My thesis project consisted of probing the environs of ~1100 of these stars using two different search methodologies: 1) I-band imaging for companions at 1-5 arcsecond separations, and 2) a blinking search using SuperCOSMOS plates in conjunction with the I-band images noted above for common proper motion companions at separations 4 - 300 arcseconds. Our all-sky sample consisted of 1121 M Dwarfs having an accurate published parallax (as of January 1, 2014) that places them within 25 parsecs (81.5 light years) of the Sun.

The background image is an artist's rendition of the M dwarf system SCR 0630-7643AB, a RECONS discovery. Image Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation.


The MEarth Project

The MEarth Project (pronounced 'mirth') is an all-sky astronomical survey that is using robotic telescopes in both the northern and southern hemispheres to observe nearby (distances < 33 pc) M dwarf stars in search of new Earth-like exoplanets. MEarth has discovered three planets around these nearby low-mass stars to-date. Data from MEarth have enabled the measurements of trigonometric distances to ~1500 northern M dwarfs, the calculations of masses and radii of newly-revealed eclipsing binaries, and the determination of rotation periods for ~400 nearby M dwarfs, while complementary science from this project has resulted in the assessment of metallicities for ~450 of these low-mass neighbors.

Image credit: MEarth



RECONS formed in 1994 with the intent of understanding the nature of the Sun's nearest stellar neighbors, both individually and as a population. Our goals are to discover ``missing'' members of the sample of stars within 25 parsecs (81.5 light years) and to characterize all stars within that distance limit. New members are found via astrometric, photometric, and spectroscopic techniques, or through companionship studies at small and large separations. Characterization includes photometry and spectroscopy at both optical and infrared wavelengths, as well as determinations of the luminosity function, mass function, and multiplicity fraction of the nearby stars.

The background image is of the star system nearest to the Sun, Alpha Centauri AB. Image credit: RECONS.


First Author Publications

  • PhD Dissertation: Nearby Red Dwarfs & Their Dance Partners: Characterizing More Than 2000 Single & Multiple M Dwarfs Near The Sun
  • Winters et al. 2018b: TSN 45: The Stellar Multiplicity of M Dwarfs Within 25 pc (submitted)
  • Winters et al. 2018a: LHS 1610A: A Nearby Mid-M Dwarf With A Companion That Is Likely A Brown Dwarf
  • Winters et al. 2017: TSN 38: Results From the CTIO 0.9m: Trigonometric Parallaxes to 151 Nearby M Dwarf Systems
  • Winters et al. 2015: TSN 35: Distances to 1404 M Dwarf Systems Within 25 pc in the Southern Sky
  • Winters et al. 2011: TSN 23: CCD Photometric Distance Estimates of SCR Targets -- 77 M Dwarf Systems Within 25 Parsecs
  • The background image is of sunset in the Chilean Andes taken from the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory by JGW.