Western University Physics adn AstronomyWestern Science

Stan Metchev, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair

Stan Metchev

Contact Information

Office: PAB 201
Tel: 519 661-2111, 88438
E-mail: smetchev [at] uwo [dot] ca
Current Website 

Research Areas

Extrasolar planets
Brown Dwarfs

Research Interests

Stanimir Metchev's research is on planetary systems around nearby stars and on the atmospheres of brown dwarfs and exoplanets.  Images and spectra of extrasolar planets have recently offered direct probes of the physical extent of planetary systems and of the chemistry of exoplanetary atmospheres. Resolved imaging of tenuous circumstellar dust in nearby planetary systems has revealed the dynamical signatures of even more, yet to be seen planets. With high-contrast imaging technology coming of age, the number of directly imaged extrasolar planets will expand by more than an order of magnitude over the next decade.

Brown dwarfs---giant planets' more massive kin---offer a convenient probe of exoplanetary atmospheres.  With sizes and temperatures similar to those of known exoplanets, the atmospheres of brown dwarfs are governed by comparable dynamics, and exhibit similar characteristics: clouds, zonal winds, and storms.  A tell-tale sign of the presence of a large-scale storm on a substellar object is the variability in the object's apparent brightness as the storm rotates first in and then out of view.  Multi-wavelength photometric and spectroscopic observations of brown dwarfs reveal the vertical and longitudinal temperature structure of storms in substellar atmospheres.  Such observations have also been the first ones to probe the atmospheric dynamics of extrasolar planets.


  1. Heinze, A., Metchev, S. et al. 2013, ApJ, 767, 173"Weather on Other Worlds. I. Detection of Periodic Variability in the L3 Dwarf DENIS-P J1058.7-1548 with Precise Multi-wavelength Photometry"http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2013ApJ...767..173H
  2. Geissler, K., Metchev, S. et al. 2011, ApJ, 732, 56"A Cross-match of 2MASS and SDSS. II. Peculiar L Dwarfs, Unresolved Binaries, and the Space Density of T Dwarf Secondaries"http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2011ApJ...732...56G
  3. Metchev, S., Marois, C.,  Zuckerman, B. 2009, ApJ, 705, L204"Pre-Discovery 2007 Image of the HR 8799 Planetary System"http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2009ApJ...705L.204M
  4. Metchev, S. & Hillenbrand, L. 2009, ApJS, 181, 62

[Complete Publications List]


SBU AST105: Introduction to the Solar System
Astronomy 2021B: The Search for Life in the Universe

SBU PHY521: Stars
SBU PHY517/AST443: The Observational Technique
SBU PHY688: From Brown Dwarfs to Giant Plantes

Note: SBU denotes courses taught at Stony Brook University


  • PI of 873-hour Spitzer Space Telescope Exploration Science Program GO 80179:"Weather on Other Worlds: A Survey of Cloud-Induced Variability in Brown Dwarfs",2011-present
  • PI of NASA Astrophysics & Data Analysis award 10-ADAP10-0130:"Database Cross-Correlation at Scale: A Complete Census of Cool and Peculiar Brown Dwarfs in the 2MASS/SDSS Overlap", 2011-present
  • PI of joint Spitzer/Hubble Space Telescope program Spitzer-GO 40489 (19 hrs) / HST-GO 11304 (1 orbit):"The L/T Transition in the Photospheres of Young Sub-Stellar Companions", 2007-2011
  • PI of 44-orbit Hubble Space Telescope program GO 10849, "Imaging Scattered Light from Debris Disks Discovered by Spitzer around 21 Sun-like Stars", 2006-2009
  • PI of Spitzer Space Telescope Fellowship award "Circumstellar Disks and Sub-Stellar Objects",2005-2008
  • Co-PI of NASA Origins of Solar Systems award 11-OSS11-0073:“High Contrast Observations Close to Stars with Vortex Coronagraphy”,2012-present
  • Co-PI of 1144-hour Spitzer Space Telescope Exploration Science Program GO 90063: "Extrasolar Storms: The Physics and Chemistry of Evolving Cloud Structures in Brown Dwarf Atmospheres", 2012-present
  • PI or Co-PI on approximately 40 nights of observing time on 2-10 m ground-based telescope facilities annually.

Professional Activities

  • Current collaborations with postdocs and students:Aren Heinze: SBU postdoc since 2011 (PhD 2007, U Arizona)Rahul Patel: SBU PhD student since 2009Kendra Kellogg: SBU MSc student since 2011 -> Western PhD student since 2013Matthew Wahl: SBU class of 2011, SBU MSc student since 2012Joseph Trollo: SBU class of 2012 -> Western MSc student since 2013
  • Past collaborations with postdocs and students:Kerstin Geissler: postdoc 2009-2011 (PhD 2009, Heidelberg)Stephanie Zajac: SBU MSI student 2011-2012, now continuing MSI at SBUMichael McElwain: PhD 2007, UCLA; now Research Astronomer at NASA Goddard SFCShannon Hicks: SBU class of 2012, now Western MSc student since 2013Owen Vail: SBU class of 2012, now PhD student at Georgia TechJustin Bird: SBU class of 2012, now PhD student at Drexel UAmanda White: REU summer student 2011, as of 2012 - Research Aide at AMNHAlfonse Pharm: UCLA class of 2008, now PhD student at Indiana-Purdue IndianapolisTiffany Meshkat: UCLA class of 2009, now PhD student at Leiden UNaoki Eto: SBU Simons Summer Research Fellow in 2010, now BSc student at CaltechJoshua Golub: summer research student in 2010, now BSc student at Binghamton U
  • Conference organizing committee member:* Splinter Session on "Clouds in Brown Dwarfs and Giant Planets" during the Cool Stars 17 international conference, June 24-29 in Barcelona, Spain* New York Astronomical Society Meeting, April 20-21, 2012, Stony Brook, NY* Tri-State Astronomy Meeting, October 2010 and 2012, New York, NY
  • Elected member of the New York Astronomy Consortium Board of Directors
  • Member of the Spitzer Space Telescope Time Allocation Committee, of Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescope review panels, and of numerous NSF, NASA, and NOAO proposal review panels.
  • Referee for Science, ApJ, AJ, A&A, Astron. Nachr.
  • Outreach through annual public talks for the SBU Astronomy Open Night series and for the SBU Alumni Association, visits to local K-12 schools and astronomy clubs, interviews with the press.
  • Founding faculty mentor for the SBU undergraduate Astronomy Club