Profiles of Astronomers: Giada Arney

giada

This week’s featured astronomer is UW Planetarium Coordinator Giada Arney!

  • Who are you and where are you from?

I’m Giada, a fifth year grad student at UW, and I’m originally from colorful Colorado.

  • How did you become interested in Astronomy?

When I was a little kid, my mom would point out constellations to my sister and me on our backyard deck on warm summer nights.  I fell in love with the sky and begged for a telescope so that I could see more.

  • If you’re an astronomer, what do you study?

I’m fascinated by planets, both in terms of what they can teach us about our own world, and in terms of how they are surprising and different from Earth.  I’ve studied Earth’s evil twin sister, Venus, and I’m currently using computer models to study the atmosphere of Archean Earth (3.8-2.5 billion years ago) as an analog for Earthlike exoplanets (which are planets around other stars).  Archean Earth may have had a hazy atmosphere, and hazy worlds may be common in the exoplanet population, so understanding how hazes impact our ability to characterize far away planetary atmospheres is important. I think we can learn a lot about far away worlds by looking close to home and applying what we know about the more familiar planets in our solar system to the very alien planets we’ve begun to discover around other stars.

  • What’s the coolest thing (not literal) in the Universe?

There are over 100 billion stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way.  We now know that most stars have planetary systems, so that means there are over 100 billion planets in our galaxy.  That’s a lot of planets!  We’re beginning to understand how to detect the fingerprints of alien life from afar, so if there’s life out there, someday we’ll know.

  • What’s the coolest thing outside of your field?

Life’s diversity and tenacity amazes me.  Life seems to occupy just about every available niche on our planet: from the sky, to the oceans, to even radioactive waste!

  • What is your favorite non-astronomy hobby?

I love traveling, gardening, cooking, and reading.

  • Is there anything else you’d like the public to know about you?

Being the UW planetarium coordinator is pretty awesome!  I love helping to inspire the next generation of scientists.

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