For Brittany Miles, her work is most meaningful when she collaborates with others to shed light on profound challenges. Brittany’s expertise lies in mid-infrared observations of brown dwarfs—astronomical objects that share properties with both planets and stars. By placing unique constraints on the atmospheric structures of these cold objects, she provides a template for predicting and interpreting future direct images of cooler exoplanets. Her brown dwarf observations inform her work as an instrumentalist, where she retrofits and tests detector capabilities to support more precise characterization of exoplanets.

In her fellowship, Brittany will first continue her observations of brown dwarf atmospheres to obtain data on cloud composition and behavior. As co-principal investigator on a JWST proposal, she will explore the coldest known brown dwarf to inspect possible water clouds and water vapor and infer how such features may behave on gas giant exoplanets. Brittany also plans to enhance the sensitivity of ground-based instruments to capture images of more Earth-like planets. Her work will be instrumental to the field as more large telescopes come online in the years ahead. Brittany received a Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from University of California, Santa Cruz, in Summer 2022.

“I’d like to continue getting high-quality data on single targets to understand what gases are in the atmospheres of brown dwarfs, and answer bigger questions about how planets form and what their atmospheres look like.”