Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Zachory Berta-Thompson

Second Advisor

Ann-Marie Madigan

Third Advisor

Daniel Jones


We analyze 6603 observations from Robo-AO’s M dwarf survey taken on the 2.1m Kitt Peak telescope and perform a multiplicity comparison with Gaia DR2. Through its laser-guided, automated system, the Robo-AO instrument has yielded the largest M dwarf multiplicity survey to date. After developing an interface to visually identify and locate stellar companions, we selected eleven low-significance Robo-AO detections for follow-up on the Keck II telescope using its NIRC2 imager. With Robo-AO, we find 550 candidate companions within 400 around 539 stars out of 5490 unique targets, most of which are new discoveries. Using a position cross match with DR2 on all targets, we assess the binary recoverability of Gaia DR2 and compare the properties of multiples resolved by both Robo-AO and Gaia. The catalog of nearby M dwarf systems and their basic properties presented here can assist in transiting exoplanet surveys which observe these stars, such as the NASA TESS mission.