Thomas began his MSc at Université de Montréal in May 2020, supervised by René Doyon, before making an accelerated transition to the PhD in May 2021. He is interested in the detection and characterization of giant exoplanets via direct imaging and high resolution spectroscopy. In particular, he uses the AMI (Aperture Masking Interferometry) mode of the NIRISS instrument on board the James Webb Space Telescope to image giant planets (slightly more massive than Jupiter). With high-resolution spectrographs such as NIRPS and SPIRou he is also trying to detect the atmosphere of such planets. This technique would not only reveal the presence of the planet, but would also enable caracterisation of its properties via high resolution spectroscopy. When combined, spectroscopy and direct imaging tell us a lot about giant planets. Among other things, they inform us on their temperature, their atmospheric composition, their mass and the mechanisms that led to their formation.
During his undergraduate degree in physics at McGill University, Thomas completed two summer internships at iREx. Under the supervision of René Doyon, Julien Rameau and Lauren Weiss, he studied the Beta Pictoris system. Using Gaussian processes, a simple and efficient method to model complex signals, he was able to model the stellar activity of this pulsating star in order to constrain the mass and orbit of the two giant planets found in this system.
In parallel with his research activities, Thomas is involved in several projects related to science communication. Through the “Sprints de Science” program, he presents two interactive workshops on astronomy research for high school students. He also regularly participates in various iREx initiatives that allow him to give presentations on astronomy to elementary school, high school, college, and general audiences. He is also involved, like many other iREx members, with InitiaSciences. This organization provides an opportunity for high school students to participate in scientific research throughout the school year, mentored by a graduate student.