Laurence Marcotte

2017 Marie Curie iREx Intern and B.Sc. student, Université de Montréal

Laurence started a baccalaureate in mathematics and physics during the fall of 2017, at Université de Montréal. During the summer of 2017, she did an internship under the supervision of Jason Rowe and René Doyon. She worked with photometric data of the planet Kepler-10b collected during NASA’s Kepler mission. Kepler-10b is slightly bigger than the Earth and has an orbit with a period of about 18 hours. It is very close to its star and its temperature can exceed 2000K. The goal of Laurence’s project was to develop a computer code that matched the observations. The expected results will give a prediction of the surface conditions of the planet.


René Doyon and Jason Rowe

Interview with Laurence on her 2017 internship
What was the topic of your internship?

My internship was on the exoplanet Kepler-10b. The objective was to make a simple model to determine its rotation period and albedo.

What is interesting about it?

What I personally found interesting was to learn to create a model to better understand a planet taking into account all the different physical concepts involved.

What did you discovered? What is your most important result?

I did not find with certainty the rotation period of Kepler-10b, but I was able to determiner a few values that are plausible with what we know of the planet. It could have a rotation period equal to its orbital period, which would allow to determiner that the same portion of the planet is always facing the star (« tidally locked »). Another possibility is that the planet is rotation quite fast in a direction that is opposite to its orbital movement. I was able to determine the albedo of the planet should be between 0.1 et 0.2.

What did you learn this summer?

I learned to code in Python, which will be really useful during me undergraduate studies. I also learned more about exoplanets and what physical processes are relevant to their study.

What was the biggest challenge during your internship?

My greatest challenge was to start to program my model. Since it was my first programming experience, I was not sure where to start and what to do first.

What did you like the most about your internship?

The people and the environment. I really like to do this project, but I was also pleasantly surprised by the people working with me. They were always there to help and we discovered many things together (for example, new python functions). There were also many outreach and social activities that contributed to the very good atmosphere.