Jennifer Helen Seng Weston
Postdoctoral Fellow at Green Bank Observatory

Jansky Laboratory 235
155 Observatory Road
Green Bank, WV 24944
jweston (at)
My Research

I spend most of my research time thinking and observing novae and symbiotic systems in radio.

Novae can occur in binary systems where a white dwarf (WD) accretes mass from its companion. When enough matter builds up on the surface of the star and some critical mass is reached, it can trigger a thermonuclear reaction, blowing material off the surface of the star as a shell of plasma. This material is quite hot and luminous, so at this point you will see the star brighten -- hence the name "nova", which means "new star".

Symbiotic systems are similarly a WD and its companion star -- only in symbiotic systems, this companion is an evolved red giant. While symbiotics can have nova, the majority of eruptions from these systems are not the result of a full thermonuclear runaway: instead, they are powered by accretion or by quasi-steady nuclear burning on the surface of the WD.

About Me

Originally from Baltimore, I moved to Waltham, MA, to get my undergraduate degree at Brandeis University, where I double majored in physics and mathematics. I also was introduced to radio astronomy at Brandeis, doing my honors thesis with Prof. John Wardle, examining the radio structure and polarization of jets of Active Galactic Nuclei. I received my masters and my PhD in Astronomy at Columbia University in New York City, working with Dr. Jeno Sokoloski. My thesis focused on accreting WD binaries and their ejecta, research I am continuing post-graduation. I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, spending half my time on independent research and the rest assisting with telescope operations and support.

In my spare time, I love to hike, cook, camp, and travel. I also enjoy volunteering for STEM outreach programs, since I feel astronomy is a particularly good field for encouraging a love a science!

Jennifer on the GBT