Jared Hand

  • Graduate Student


Research Statement

My work with Professor Wood-Vasey focuses on improving our statistical modeling of the host galaxy-SN Ia relationship so that uncertainties in both host property estimates and uncertainties in SNe Ia light curve properties are appropriately accounted for.  This includes a detailed comparison of host property estimates found using both differing observational and fitting techniques and an application of more powerful statistical techniques to handle multiple sources of uncertainty.  Given the University of Pittsburgh Physics and Astronomy Departments specialization in both galaxy observation and supernova research, our research group is in a unique an exciting position to apply the latest tools and findings from the galaxy community directly to SN Ia cosmology research to better understand the properties and origin of the host galaxy-SN Ia relationship.

In parallel to host galaxy research, I also work with Dr. Alex Kim at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory via the Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Student Research award developing robust empirical models for SNe Ia using Bayesian hierarchical models, Gaussian processes, and Hamiltonian Monte Carlo with STAN.

The utility of type Ia supernovae (SNe) to measure cosmic distances was successfully demonstrated with the discovery of dark energy (Riess 1998, Perlmutter 1999).  Despite this and further achievements, our understanding of SNe Ia progenitors and the physics leading to their explosion remains poorly understood.  Furthermore, SNe Ia are not true standard candles and must be standardized using empirical relations (Phillips 1993, Riess 1996).  This process of standardization fails to take into consideration intrinsic variation in SNe Ia brightness and duration that correlates with host galaxy properties such as total stellar mass and star formation rate (Sullivan 2010, Betoule 2014, Rigault 2018).  Given our lack of theoretical understanding of SNe Ia and the complexity of galaxy evolution and property estimation, the source for this host galaxy-SN Ia relationship remains unknown.


Graduate Advisor

Michael Wood-Vasey