Alex Gagliano

I’m an NSF Fellow in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), where I use early-time data and machine learning to study the astrophysical systems that the Universe lets us watch evolve in real time (supernovae, kilonovae, gamma-ray bursts, etc). I'm also a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the Flatiron Institute's Center for Computational Astrophysics. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Computational Modeling and Data Analytics from Virginia Tech.

I’m also passionate about building community and creating welcoming spaces within astrophysics. I founded astro[sound]bites, the audio counterpart to the popular blog astrobites, to highlight the work of early-career scientists. I also lead Astronomy Cultural Journal Clubs at UIUC, and I've spearheaded outreach projects in the US, Gabon, and India. In my free time, you can find me practicing cello, biking and running (I ran my first marathon in 2021!), and learning about the incredible diversity of animals with which we share the planet. You can download my CV here.

Research

Rapid Inference from Survey Streams

Rubin, Roman, and JWST will revolutionize our understanding of the time-domain sky, but only if we have the architecture in place to investigate the weird, unexpected phenomena that they will discover. I develop fast, scalable methods to find and prioritize events within massive survey streams, and am an active member of the ANTARES alert broker.

Data stream entering computer, where the streams are categorized and directed to dedicated follow-up observatories.

Transient-Host Galaxy Studies

The local environment where transients occur can provide tantalizing evidence for the nature of their progenitors. Within the Dark Energy Science Collaboration., I combine observations with state-of-the-art simulations to investigate these correlations for poorly-understood classes of events.

Galaxies pulled from a statistical sample, one small galaxy hosting one transient and one large hosting many.

Early-Time Supernova Signatures

Data obtained in the first few days of an explosion provide an in-depth view into the final moments of a star's life and the earliest moments of its death. As a member of the Young Supernova Experiment, I search for these young transients and model signatures of shock breakout, CSM interaction, and flash ionization.

Chemical Enrichment from High Redshift Supernovae

Multi-scale simulations are required to understand the atomic and molecular chemistry of the early Universe. At the Los Alamos National Laboratory, I built a chemical solver that runs inline with cosmological simulations and probed the abundances of formed CO, OH, and H2O.

An SN surrounding by atoms and molecules.

Selected Papers

  1. Gagliano, Alexander; Izzo, Luca; Kilpatrick, Charles D.; Mockler, Brenna; Jacobson-Galán, Wynn Vicente; Terreran, Giacomo; Dimitriadis, Georgios; Zenati, Yossef; Auchettl, Katie; Drout, Maria R.; Narayan, Gautham; Foley, Ryan J.; Margutti, R.; Rest, Armin; Jones, D. O.; Aganze, Christian; Aleo, Patrick D.; Burgasser, Adam J.; Coulter, D. A.; Gerasimov, Roman; Gall, Christa; Hjorth, Jens; Hsu, Chih-Chun; Magnier, Eugene A.; Mandel, Kaisey S.; Piro, Anthony L.; Rojas-Bravo, César; Siebert, Matthew R.; Stacey, Holland; Stroh, Michael Cullen; Swift, Jonathan J.; Taggart, Kirsty; Tinyanont, Samaporn (for the Young Supernova Experiment), An Early-time Optical and Ultraviolet Excess in the Type-Ic SN 2020oi, The Astrophysical Journal, vol. 924, no. 2, pp. 55-110, 2022. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ac35ec. arXiv
  2. Jones, D. O., Foley, R. J., Narayan, G., Hjorth, J., Huber, M. E., Aleo, P. D., Alexander, K. D., Angus, C. R., Auchettl, K., Baldassare, V. F., Bruun, S. H., Chambers, K. C., Chatterjee, D., Coppejans, D. L., Coulter, D. A., DeMarchi, L., Dimitriadis, G., Drout, M. R., Engel, A., French, K. D., Gagliano, A., Gall, C., Hung, T., Izzo, L., Jacobson- Galán, W. V., Kilpatrick, C. D., Korhonen, H., Margutti, R., Raimundo, S. I., Ramirez-Ruiz, E., Rest, A., Rojas-Bravo, C., Siebert, M. R., Smartt, S. J., Smith, K. W., Terreran, G., Wang, Q., Wojtak, R., Agnello, A., Ansari, Z., Arendse, N., Baldeschi, A., Blanchard, P. K., Brethauer, D., Bright, J. S., Brown, J. S., de Boer, T. J. L., Dodd, S. A., Fairlamb, J. R., Grillo, C., Hajela, A., Hede, C., Kolborg, A. N., Law-Smith, J. A. P., Lin, C. -C., Magnier, E. A., Malanchev, K., Matthews, D., Mockler, B., Muthukrishna, D., Pan, Y. -C., Pfister, H., Ramanah, D. K., Rest, S., Sarangi, A., Schrøder, S. L., Stauffer, C., Stroh, M. C., Taggart, K. L., Tinyanont, S., Wainscoat, R. J. (for the Young Supernova Experiment), The Young Supernova Experiment: Survey Goals, Overview, and Operations, The Astrophysical Journal, vol 908, no. 2, pp. 143-167, 2021. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/abd7f5. arXiv
  3. Gagliano, A., Narayan, G., Engel, A., and Kind, M.C. (for the LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration), GHOST: Using Only Host Galaxy Information to Accurately Associate and Distinguish Supernovae, The Astrophysical Journal, vol. 908, no. 170, pp. 1-23, 2021. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/abd02b. arXiv
  4. Madrid, Juan P., O'Neill, Conor R., Gagliano, Alexander T., Marvil, Joshua R., A Wide-field Map of Intracluster Globular Clusters in Coma, The Astrophysical Journal, vol. 867, no. 2, pp. 144-157, 2018. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aae206. arXiv

Recent and Upcoming Talks

Software

I maintain/contribute to multiple open source software projects.

Name Description
PHotometric Analysis Software Tools (PHAST) A package for real-time transient classification using transient photometry and host galaxy information.
Simulated Catalog of Optical Transients and Correlated Hosts (SCOTCH) A set of analysis tools for simulating transient-host galaxy correlations for common (SNe Ia/II/Ibc) and rare (KNe) classes of events, and a catalog of 5M simulated events.
SuperNova ANAlysis package (SNANA) A software pipeline for simulating transients and generating realistic host galaxy properties.
Galaxies Hosting Supernovae and other Transients (GHOST) A package for associating transients with their most likely host galaxies and estimating host photo-zs.

Outreach & Academic Service

Astronomy Cultural Journal Club (ACJC)

Through the Society for Equity in Astronomy (SEA), I organize and lead monthly discussions within my department on topical issues in equity and inclusion. Notes from this semester's discussions can be found below.

An in-person discussion of the Astronomy Cultural Journal Club.

Astro[sound]bites

I am a creator and host of the podcast astro[sound]bites, where I discuss recent astronomy research with two other graduate students. We amplify the voices of early-career scientists through regular interviews and explore sound-based representations of astronomy data. To date, we've published over 50 episodes, received outreach grants from the ASP, AGU, and AAS, and have listeners in 55 countries. Find our website here.

Alex laughing while presenting at the 2017 Story of Space
Alex giving a talk at the Literary on machine learning in astronomy.

Sounds of the Spectrum

As part of the 2017 Story of Space, an exploration of the overlap between astronomy and art, I designed and implemented an interactive exhibit exploring the chemical composition of the universe through sound. The exhibit ran for a week in Goa, India and reached thousands of members of the public. Read more about it here and here.

Alex laughing while presenting at the 2017 Story of Space

Contact