Science Working Group Member
Dept. of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Villanova University, PA
Dr Andrej Prsa is a research assistant professor in the Dept. of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Villanova University, PA. His current research focuses on modeling and analysis of eclipsing binary stars.
Eclipsing binaries are fundamentally important for stellar astrophysics. Their geometric orientation allows us to determine masses, radii and temperatures of their components, and distances to a remarkable accuracy. Dr Prsa wrote and maintains the modeling code PHOEBE (http://phoebe.fiz.uni-lj.si) and the artificial intelligence based solution estimator EBAI (http://phoebe.fiz.uni-lj.si/?q=node/104). He serves as chair of the Kepler Eclipsing Binary Working Group. The group produced a catalog (http://astro4.ast.villanova.edu/aprsa/kepler) of over 2000 eclipsing binaries observed by Kepler. The scientific significance of this sample is unprecedented in accuracy and astrophysical impact: detailed modeling yields statistics on orbital periods, amplitudes, galactic distribution, distances, ages, a mass-radius relationship across the H-R diagram, and membership in triple and multiple stellar systems. Careful studies of binary stars are important for planet hunting as well: when diluted with light from a nearby source, light curves of eclipsing binaries may be confused for planet transits. Precise modeling of light curve shapes contributes to vetting the transit candidates and thus contributing to the Kepler core program.