Introductions: Who's who on the HEACIT forum

This thread is a place to introduce yourself. If you plan on posting on this forum, we would like to know more about you, such as:

  • your name
  • institutional affiliation or location
  • your research and/or software interests
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I will start!

I’m Lía Corrales (accent mark optional), Assistant Professor of Astronomy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.

I study the transmission properties of interstellar dust and other astrophysical solids (lately, exoplanet aerosols) with the ultimate goal of identifying their compositions and understanding what that reveals about its environment.

My primary observational expertise is in the X-ray, particularly with Chandra ACIS and HETG. I love extracting information from difficult datasets, which requires an intimate understanding of detector systematics. I love Python, and have been developing my own Python libraries for calculating dust transmission and X-ray scattering halos ( and a super-lightweight handling system for X-ray spectra, based on the Astropy specutils framework ( I have been a member of the Astropy Team for about 6 years, contributing to the Learn Astropy tutorial ecosystem and governance working groups. As a member of the XRISM Science Team, I am interested in developing techniques for handling high spectral resolution image cubes that takes advantage of the combination of spectral and spatial information in the X-ray. I also spend a lot of time worrying about telescope PSFs.

High energy specific software I work with:

  • ISIS, XSPEC, pyXSPEC, and learning pySPEX for spectroscopy
  • CIAO and Swift UVOT tools for data reduction

PS - The HEACIT Working Group was founded by a small group of high energy astronomers who care about software, around summer 2020. In 2021 I was appointed (in reality, volunteered) to chair the group. We have opened this forum to foster a public and searchable space for people to get help on current high energy software and discuss future areas for development! If you are interested in joining HEACIT, please see our charter (linked on our website) and apply for membership.

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My name is (Hans) Moritz Günther. I’m research staff at MIT, where I am responsible for marx, the Chandra ray-trace code, but also work on a number of other Chandra tasks, many of which are relevant for this group: Sherpa development, grating spectral extraction, CIAO documentation, ACIS software [occasionally need to dabble in calibration if the products I need don’t exist].

I’m also an active member of the Astropy project, currently serving on the Astropy Coordination Committee.
My research is about young stars and stellar activity in X-rays and the UV. I also do have an interested in doing statistics right.

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My name is Douglas Burke, but I also answer to Doug. I am a member of the Chandra X-ray Center over at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian - I think that’s the correct nomenclature for our institute this week - where I work as a member of the Science Data Systems group, whose remit is to help the community extract all the science they can from Chandra data. My current work is focused on developing Sherpa for all your fitting and modelling needs, but I am fluent in most areas of CIAO, in particular combining CIAO tools and libraries with Python.

I have been associated with AstroPy, but not in as intensive a way as some of our other members! I am also interested in doing software “correctly” - for whatever nebulous meaning we can come up with such a term - and currently playing around with certain areas off the beaten path (currently Haskell, the language, and Nix, the package manager).

Research wise I am in interested in the structure and evolution of the Universe, as traced by “large blobs of gas” (galaxy groups and clusters of galaxies).

I am the 2023/2024 Secretary for the AstroStatistics Interest Group of the American Statistical Association, also known as

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I’m Randall Smith, Associate Director of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian for the High Energy Astrophysics Division and PI for the Arcus mission. I used to be a Young Turk leading the charge on all sorts of software and computing projects, but have been reliably informed that championing the use of IMPLICIT NONE no longer puts me at the cutting edge of astro-computing. I was one of the founders of HEACIT, and was absolutely thrilled when Lía agreed to take on real leadership. Thanks again Lía!

I do still maintain a few packages of general interest, including the lightweight telescope simulator simx (simx simulation software) and the X-ray dust scattering calculation code xscat ( I’m perhaps best known for creating AtomDB and APEC, a database and code used to calculate the emission from a hot collisional plasma, although leadership of this effort has passed from me to Adam Foster. The full chain of people involved in that effort, for those interested, is Don Cox → John Raymond → Nancy Brickhouse → Randall Smith → Adam Foster → TBD.

Unlike practically everyone on this thread, I am not involved in astropy except as a distant admirer. And I haven’t a clue what Haskell is.

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Hi all,

I am Jelle de Plaa from SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research and currently leading the data analysis and software group of the Astrophysics program. Our group has a lot of expertise and heritage in X-ray astronomy. We have been involved in missions like XMM-Newton RGS, Chandra LETG, and Hitomi. Currently, we are working with the XRISM and Athena X-IFU teams.

I am one of the people developing our X-ray spectral analysis tool SPEX, which is a tool optimised for high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy, which contains an atomic database, spectral models and fitting algorithms.

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Hi friends!

I’m Grant Tremblay, an Astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics and a member of the Chandra High Resolution Camera team. I work on black hole feedback in massive galaxies (mostly nearby brightest cluster galaxies) with Chandra, HST, ALMA, MUSE (and other ground-based optical IFUs), etc.

I use high energy astro codes all the time (mostly [Py]XSPEC, CIAO every day, etc.) and really love Python. You can find my codes here. The HEACIT working group is a really great idea (thank you, Lía et al.!) and so I wanted to join this forum. Looks like a great resource!

I’m Paul Barrett, an Associate Research Professor at The George Washington University. I wrote the first version of PyFITS; contributed to the development of Numpy, SciPy, and matplotlib; and advocated for Python in astronomy many moons ago. I am still a moderator of the AstroPy mailing list. A few years ago, I migrated from Python to Julia as my primary scientific programming language, because I believe it is the successor to SciPy. I am now using Julia to develop software for the analysis of radio astronomy data, and plan to begin developing some software for the analysis of X-ray astronomy data. I am also a member of the JuliaAstro group, which is a small, but growing group, working to develop astronomical software.

My primary research interest is multi-wavelength observations of magnetic cataclysmic variables, from the radio to gamma rays. I am also interested in high performance computing, algorithms, and astrostatistics.

Hi all,

I am Chien-Ting Chen, a Scientist at USRA working at MSFC’s X-ray group. I am currently working on the SRG/ART-XC (it’s the hard X-ray telescope sitting next to eROSITA) data reduction and analysis pipeline for the eventual public release of the ART-XC data to the community. I learned about HEACIT at the HEAD meeting. I didn’t have a chance to talk to any of the members there, but I’m definitely interested in joining the discussion as I think HEACIT would be a great place to discuss and shape the future of the software we all use.

I use all the typical software we all use, heasoft, xspec, ciao, python.
I am also interested in new and old tricks that can make our research more efficient and robust.

My primary research interest is supermassive black hole and galaxy evolution through multiwavelength studies.

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Hi all,

I’m very late to this party!

Like Jelle, I work at the SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research. My interests are broadly developing astrostatistics and machine learning for high-energy astrophysics. I’m particularly interested in how we can make inference of astrophysical quantities better using machine learning, and how we can use these new techniques to improve instrument calibration. In terms of astrophysics I work in magnetars and other transient phenomena, and in accretion onto (stellar-mass) black holes.

I mainly use the scientific python stack, with the occasional sherpa and xspec thrown in. I’m also maintainer of the spectral-timing package Stingray. In the context of X-ray software, I’m particularly interested in how we can make the current (and future) X-ray data analysis packages interface with cutting-edge machine learning and statistics packages like PyTorch, numpyro and pymc3. I’m also thinking about how we can use modern paradigms like differentiable and probabilistic programming to make our software faster/more efficient/smarter.

Looking forward to chatting with you all here!