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Wilson, David

David J Wilson

Postdoctoral Fellow
McDonald Observatory

Research interests: M dwarfs, stellar activity, white dwarfs, remnant planetary systems, space telescope observations


Office Location
RLM 16.332

Postal Address
AUSTIN, TX 78712

I am a Postdoctral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, starting from summer 2018, and working with Dr Cynthia Froning. Previously I did my PhD (2013-17) and a short postdoc (2017-18) at the University of Warwick, where my supervisor was Professor Boris Gaensicke. I talk a lot about my research and other things on Twitter.

My research focuses on observations of small stars, with the general aim of learning more about exoplanetary systems. I work with a wide range of facilities such as the Hubble Space Telescope, XMM-Newton, the Very Large Telescope and many more. My main research project is the Mega-MUSCLES Treasury program obtaining pan-chromatic spectral energy distributions of a representative sample of M dwarf stars, which can be used to model the atmospheres and potential habitability of planets at M dwarfs.

spectra lc

Figure 1: A stellar flare on an M dwarf (left) observed with the Hubble Space Telescope. The spectrum of the star dramatically changes during the flare (right). See Froning et al. 2019 for more information.

I also work on observations of white dwarfs, the end stages of stellar evolution for most stars. In particular I am interested in white dwarfs with M dwarf companions, where the white dwarf is accreting the stellar wind of the M dwarf, providing a measurement of the stellar wind rate and composition, as well as continuing my observations of the mysterious variable white dwarf GD 394.