Astronomy progress is often made by serendipitous discoveries. Keep looking and you will find something in the sky. DES, and its DECam, is doing wonders on that front, covering a large volume of Southern Hemisphere, allowing the discovery of many things from solar system objects to distant quasars.
Ricardo is working on the process of improving the location of Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) observed by DES and is trying to predict when a TNO will cross our line-of-sight to a star. This is called an occultation and its prediction requires estimating the source’s position with great precision. Looking at the TNO silhouette one can tell its shape, density, and even if it has rings (e.g. Chariklo). He is also interested in clusters of galaxies. For instance, one can probe the dispute between gravity and dark energy, as well as the evolution of galaxies in the universe. Most of his work happens in the context of a web Science Portal produced by LIneA, which helps with the validation of DES images and catalogs.
We asked Ricardo a few more questions – here’s what he had to say:
When did you know you wanted to be a scientist?
My father is an engineer. When I was a kid he was always fixing things at home… while I was breaking them apart, trying to figure them out (or pretending to be MacGyver – nothing exploded – I swear (crossed fingers)). But the decision to pursue Astronomy came much later, when deciding what career to follow in university. Carl Sagan’s Cosmos was a strong influence.
Do you have any hobbies or play any sports?
I play the flute, although not often as I would like (you can try to find me here https://youtu.be/Jj932nqUY0I or here https://youtu.be/yI1r4iB8Fc8) and enjoy walking around the city taking photos (check my instagram https://instagram.com/thespacelink/). My better half also has to try my, let’s call it, exotic, cooking (for Brazilian standards), which often involves lots of curry
If you weren’t a scientist, what would your dream job be?
Maybe in the voice-over business, although Lake Bell has given me second thoughts about that. In a world…
What do you think has been the most exciting advance in science / technology in the last 10 years?
The widespread popularity of computers, internet, and information circulating freely. They enable other advances.
Any advice for aspiring scientists?
Just do it!