Graduate student and astronomy writer

Kimberly Cartier

Cartier Headshot-colorHello all! My name is Kimberly Cartier (née Star) and I am a current Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the Pennsylvania State University. I currently have a Bachelors of Science in Astronomy and a Masters of Science in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

My main research interest is extra-solar planets, and also focus my efforts on communication, public speaking, teaching, and public outreach. On this website you’ll find information about my current and past research projects, my teaching and outreach experience, and an astronomy blog that’s updated intermittently.

My blog is focused on explaining current and popular astronomy at a popular level. Everything from black holes and the universe to extra-solar planets and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. I also include special topics, like how (and why) to apply to grad school, how to communicate effectively at conferences, mentoring/teaching, and other meta-astronomy topics. If there’s a topic you want me to write about, send me a message!

Thanks for tuning in!

Kimberly Cartier

Update September 19th, 2016

This site will be updated intermittently as I work towards shifting to a new website platform. Once that effort is complete, this URL will redirect towards the new site.

Update January 6th, 2016

The blog post on “Best Practices for Effective Poster Design”, a meta-poster being presented at the AAS227 meeting, contains more information about the poster, references and sources for the poster content, and suggestions about how to make this poster better. This post will be updated with additional ideas and comments collected from conversations at my poster after the poster session is complete. Feel free to download a copy of the poster for yourself, and distribute it to your colleagues and students!

Headshot Credit: Drew Frank, Meadow Lane Photography


4 Responses

  1. Kimberly Cartier

    Hi David,

    I’m glad you’re a fan of the show! I always enjoy doing Weekly Space Hangouts. To answer your questions:
    1) I’m not aware of any high-resolution images of KSN2011d that would show the brilliant supernova remnant. Perhaps those will be forthcoming soon. Unfortunately, the Kepler field is only visible from the Northern sky, so you wouldn’t be able to see it from Queensland.

    2) While it’s true that SN1987a was visible immediately after explosion, the KSN2011d is the first supernova that we’ve been able to get detailed flux measurements from before, during, and after the supernova event. Once a star becomes a red supergiant (the last stage before a supernova happens), it can stay that way, unchanging, for millions of years. There is no indication of when it will supernova, so we don’t use our resources to constantly monitor those stars. The Kepler telescope just happened to spot one in a background galaxy while it was searching for exoplanets. So, no, I don’t believe that anyone was actively monitoring the star that became SN1987a in the hours before it became a supernova. There are probably observations of that star in the years before it happened, but not in the minutes before the detonation.

    The significant part of the KSN2011d observations is really the detection of the first shock breakout, which has never been seen before. Think of the shock breakout as the first splash when someone jumps into a pool, and the afterglow of the supernova remnant is just the lingering ripples in the water. The shock breakout only takes about 20 minutes, and Kepler’s 30 minute observation cadence was able to see that first splash, which before then had only been theorized, but never observed.

    I hope that helps clear things up a bit. Please don’t hesitate to ask more questions :)

    April 5, 2016 at 10:24 am

  2. Hello Kimberly.
    I have been enjoying listening to you on the Weekly space hangout on the Internet as I am keen on astronomy. I am also originally from Pennsylvania, where I ground my own telescope mirror while at school, but now live in Queensland (southern hemisphere.) I was interested in your information about the first observation of a supernova by The Kepler telescope, which you said happened in 2011. Could you answer some questions for me? 1) Is there an image available which shows the supernova’s appearance? and 2) Wasn’t the Supernova 1987A visible immediately after it appeared? The night sky is dark from my farm, and on that evening in 1987 my partner and I were listening to the radio news. The supernova was announced and was stated to be in the Large Magellanic Cloud. We walked out into our front yard and immediately saw the supernova star without assistance, as it was a moonless night, and of course you can’t see individual stars in the LMC. I always look at the two Magellanic clouds on moonless nights. It was obvious, and a real thrill to see. It remained visible for months. Surely telescopes were also looking at it, unless possibly it appeared during our and South America’s daylight?
    Thank you for your internet program–it’s great.

    April 5, 2016 at 10:06 am

  3. Dan J


    This is an exciting time in Astronomy and space exploration in general. It’s heartening to see young students such as yourself engaged in what will likely be our future salvation… outer space!

    I was a teenager when the first computers came to our home a Vic 20 and Tandy, I watched on black and white TV (with vertical hold adjust) the moon landing. We had a party-line phone where neighbors shared a number! Then I got hooked on Star trek. I joined the USAF and after 4 years became a defense contractor engineer and am to this day. My point of all this is that I have witnessed the technological progress of the last 40 years of airborne electronics. Progress is now accelerating at a breathtaking pace. The leaps down in cost and at the same time up in capability are amazing.

    Your generation stands to benefit from all this if we can keep it rolling forward. Keep up the good work and stay with the stars!

    February 21, 2016 at 8:26 pm

  4. Tom Cobb

    It is such a pleasure to hear your input on the Weekly Space Hangout. You are informative, engaging and represent the best in young, up and coming people in astronomy. It’s really wise for you to be a part of Weekly Space Hangout as a way to contribute to space education as well as getting your ideas and insights out to the public. I have no doubt you will do well in your field and look forward to following your rise in the ranks of astronomy and astrophysics.

    Thank you,


    January 28, 2016 at 3:34 pm

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