Shubham Kanodia

I recently joined the Carnegie Earth & Planets Lab, Washington DC as a Carnegie Postdoctoral Fellow, where I will help measure the masses of a sample of gas giants orbiting M dwarfs, and then leverage this to estimate their detection sensitivity and occurrence rates, as observed the TESS mission. Finally, I will combine this population of transiting gas giants with published radial velocity survey results (as well as potential future detection from GAIA) using a novel 4 dimensional nonparametric statistical technique that I've developed ( MRExo). This will help us better understand the formation processes of gas giants around M dwarfs and their dependence of stellar and orbital parameters.

Before this, I was a graduate student at Penn State Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, where I worked on exoplanet instrumentation and statistics, with my advisor Suvrath Mahadevan. My research focussed on developing the tools to detect exoplanets, and characterise their populations, particularly those orbiting cool and low mass stars

I helped develop and deploy two highly precise radial velocity (RV) spectrographs - the near-infrared Habitable zone Planet Finder (HPF) and the optical NEID spectrograph. HPF, deployed at the 10 m Hobby Eberly Telescope in Texas, USA, is the most precise on-sky near-infrared RV spectrograph; and is built to find planets around mid-late M dwarfs. NEID is a product of the NASA-NSF collaboration, and is a new generation optical spectrograph built for the 3.5 m WIYN telescope in Arizona.

In addition, I have worked to develop new astro-statistical tools to characterize exoplanet populations using novel non-parametric techniques. I hope to apply these to a sample of planets orbiting cool M dwarf host stars to unearth differences in planetary population trends between solar-type and M dwarf stellar hosts.

I am also involved in searching for extra-terrestrial intelligence by trying to find laser technosignatures in the high resolution spectra obtained from RV instruments searching for exoplanets.

Current Projects

Developing Precision RV spectrographs

Habitable-zone Planet Finder

I was instrumental in the fabrication, testing, and commissioning of the fiber injection system for HPF. I also performed the optical simulations to facilitate the optical alignment of the instrument during the alignment, integration and verification phase at Penn State.

Celebrating HPF's first light at HET, December 2017
Hobby Eberly Telescope, Texas

NEID -the cornerstone of the NASA-NSF NN-EXPLORE partnership- is an optical RV spectrograph spanning 380 to 930 nm. Built to achieve an instrument precision of 30 cm/s, it is designed to find Earth-like planets in the habitable zones around FGK stars. I am responsible for the development, fabrication and testing of the NEID fiber injection system which includes the instrument fiber, scrambling system, as well as the fibers associated with the calibration system. In addition, I am in charge of the testing and deployment the NEID exposure meter system to provide chromatic barycentric corrections at the 1 cm/s level. I am currently involved with the commissioning and engineering of this instrument at the 3.5 m WIYN telescope in Arizona, USA.

Members of the NEID team and KPNO astronomers celebrating NEID’s first light at WIYN, December 2019. Image credit: Dave Summers
WIYN telescope, Kitt Peak, Arizona
Relevant Publications:

Non-parametric statistical tools to study planetary population

We developed novel non-parametric tools to study the Mass-Radius relationship for exoplanet orbiting M dwarf host stars, and then compared this relationship for analogous planets around FGK stars. I am currently working on extending this relationship to higher dimensions to provide a holistic view of planetary population parameters (mass, radius, period), in context of stellar properties such as mass, metallicity, age.

Relevant Publications:

Measuring masses for TESS planet candidates

I am currently part of a team that is following up on TESS planet candidates orbiting M dwarfs to obtain precise mass measurements. It is imperative to obtain these precise mass measurements to find suitable targets for future transmission spectroscopy missions such as the James Webb Space Telescope, as well as to populate the Mass-Radius plane for M dwarf host exoplanets. We do this using a combination of precise radial velocity measurements using HPF and NEID, and diffuser-assisted photometry.

Relevant Publications:

NIR stellar spectroscopy

I worked on project to characterize a high energy stellar flare around faint M8 star - vB10 using HPF spectra. We find the first evidence of coronal rain around such a low mass star using our observations of the Helium triplet. These high resolution near infared observations of a stellar flare present a valuable opportunity to study flare properties for very low mass stars in a hitherto unexplored regime. Read more about it on the HPF blog.

Coronal rain on vB 10
Red asymmetry seen in the Helium triplet during a stellar flare on vB 10, indicative of coronal rain
Relevant Publication:

Searching for Laser Technosignatures

I am developing a pipeline to search for artificial narrowband unresolved laser technosignatures, using the archival data from high resolution RV spectrographs searching for exoplanets using the Doppler technique. This pipeline would enable commensal searches for laser pulses to be performed on the high resolution spectra being obtained on instruments across the world involved in measuring exoplanet masses.


  • Instrumentation
  • Astrostatistics
  • M dwarfs
  • Spectroscopy
  • Fiber Optics
  • Optical Simulation
  • SETI

Open-Source tools

I have helped develop a few Python packages that are open source and available to the community.

  • Barycorrpy - Adapted from Wright and Eastman (2014), this package provides a simple routine to compute barycentric corrections for stellar radial velocity observations at the 1 cm/s level (Kanodia and Wright 2018). In addition, it also includes tools to compute barycentric corrections for observations of solar system objects (Wright and Kanodia 2020).
  • MRExo - This package allows the user to fit a Mass-Radius relation on any 2 dimensional dataset using nonparametric methods (Kanodia et al. 2019). In addition, it can be used to predict mass from radius (and vice versa) based on a M dwarf or FGK host star sample.

Mentoring & Outreach


  • Helen Baran (2019 -- 2020) - Now a graduate student at Paris Observatory
  • Marissa Maney (2019 -- 2021) - Now a graduate student at Harvard University
  • Brody McElwain (2020 -- 2022) - Undergraduate/Master's student in Engineering Science at Penn State. Now a graduate student at University of Arizona


  • Astronomy on Tap, State College - Digging through the Cosmic Haystack (2019)
  • Nerd Nite: Webster’s Cafe, State College - Searching for other worlds, other life (2019)
  • Nehru Planetarium, Mumbai - Finding Earth 2.0 (2018)
  • AstroFest - Penn State Department of Astronomy Annual outreach event (2017-2020)
  • Volunteered with Brown Cubesat Educational Outreach Saturday STEM program at West Broadway Middle School, Providence, RI, to communicate Science and Physics to students (2015-2016)
  • Volunteered at Umang Foundation, Mumbai - teaching underprivileged children basic Mathematics and English (2012 - 2014)