Lori Porter

Aspiring Astrophysicist

University of Louisville

My Research

Upcoming: Outflows and Superbubbles in the FIRE-2 Simulations

May 2022 - present

Beginning in May 2022, this study operated under supervision of Dr. Matt Orr and Dr. Blakesley Burkhart at the Center for Computational Astrophysics. Our focus involved studying mass transport in Milky-Way mass progenitors and how this could possibly connect to superbubbles.

Stay tuned for more information and the subsequent paper!

Gas-Phase Metallicities in FIRE-2 Dwarfs

May 2021 - April 2022

Spatially Resolved Gas-phase Metallicity in FIRE-2 Dwarfs: Affecting Metallicity Relations with Star Formation and Mergers

This scientific venture took place in New York City at the Flatiron Institute's Center for Computational Astrophysics. Working under the guidance of postdoc Dr. Matt Orr and associate research scientist Dr. Blakesley Burkhart , I delved into the FIRE-2 simulations to study metallicity relations in dwarf galaxies. Thanks to their low mass, dwarf galaxies are particularly susceptible to feedback mechanisms, and they are the most common type of galaxy in the universe, forming the base of the hierarchial structure of galaxy formation and evolution. This makes them fantastic models for feedback and metallicity enrichment. Mock hubble images for each galaxy studied are on the right.

mock hubble images
HII metallicity distribution of m11e

In particular, I studied galaxies m11d, m11e, m11h, m11i, and m11q. I mapped metallicity distributions , plotted their mass-metallicity relation (MZR) and metallicity gradients, and compared findings to existing observations at a similar mass and redshift range. We even got to catch a merger's metallicity enrichment in progress for galaxy m11e, seen in the gif on the left.

I presented this work at the 240th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Pasadena, California, and the 2022 Kentucky Area Astronomical Society meeting at Austin Peay University in Tennessee. View the completed publication here.

The Loneliest Galaxies in the Universe

October 2019 - present

A GAMA and GalaxyZoo Study on Void Galaxy Morphology

My first true independent undergraduate research project (under Dr. Benne Holwerda at the University of Louisville), this study focuses on void galaxies. Voids, one of the primary components of the large-scale structure (LSS) of the universe, are not entirely empty! Instead, they exist as extremely underdense regions of the universe, and the few galaxies that reside inside them are expected to be among the most isolated objects in the universe. Because of this, they're expected to be excellent models of secular evolution (galactic evolution with minimal environmental influence).

Do void galaxies have a typical morphology? How does it compare to what we consider "normal" galaxies? Do underdense environments affect galaxy morphology in a significant way? By combining observational data from the Galaxy And Mass Assembly survey (GAMA) with citizen science from GalaxyZoo for the first time in this niche, this study builds a sample size of void galaxies several times larger than previous literature, and attempts to build upon existing theories and observational data to form more concrete answers to these questions.

See the abstract published in the University's peer-reviewed academic journal here. This project served as the topic of my undergraduate honors thesis, which was successfully defended in October 2022.

I plan on presenting this work at the 241st meeting of the American Astronomical Society. I also hope to continue this work by analyzing quenching in the same sample of void galaxies.

Galaxy Zoo Decision Tree

XMM-Newton Observations of the Galactic Supernova Remnants G32.4+0.1, G5.9+3.1, and G359.1-0.5

August 2017-May 2019

supernova remnant G32

This project with Dr. Thomas Pannuti at Morehead State University's Space Science Center was my first introduction into academic research. While this was less independent research and more learning software and astronomy, this was where I gained my first experiences in making research presentations, communicating science, and how to conduct research. This was the experience that solidified my path to becoming a researcher.

supernova remnant G359

Here, I learned how to study supernova remnants (SNRs) at various wavelengths, focusing on three in particular: G32.4+0.1, G5.9+3.1, and G359.1-0.5. We primarily focused on archival X-ray observations with the XMM-Newton Observatory. G32 and G359 are particularly interesting because they seem to differ from most SNRs. where most SNRS produce X-ray emission via the thermal bremsstrahlung process, the X-ray emission from G32 appears to instead be synchrotron radiation from cosmic-ray electrons accelerated by the SNR. In addition, typical X-ray morphologies of galactic SNRs are shell-like, but G359 is center-filled.

See the paper on G5.9+3.1 here.