I'm a Research Professor of Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology and the Project Scientist for the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), the first of a next generation of time-domain sky surveys producing hundreds of thousands of public transient alerts per night. I have previously worked on the Catalina Real-time Transient Survey (CRTS), a still unmatched data set in terms of temporal baseline coverage; the NOAO DataLab; the Virtual Observatory; and the Palomar-Quest Digital Sky Survey.

My main research interests are the application of machine learning and advanced statistical methodologies to astrophysical problems, particularly the variability of quasars and other stochastic time series. This is in part to deal with the unprecedented volumes of data that 21st century astronomy is generating but also to expand our ability to work with complex systems of information beyond simple correlations.


Candidate Electromagnetic Counterpart to the Binary Black Hole Merger Gravitational Wave Event S190521g

Graham, M.J., et al., 2020, Phys. Rev. Lett., 124,

We report the first plausible optical electromagnetic (EM) counterpart to a (candidate) binary black hole (BBH) merger. Detected by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), the EM flare is consistent with expectations for a kicked BBH merger in the accretion disk of an active galactic nucleus (AGN), and is unlikely (< O(0.01%)) due to intrinsic variability of this source. The lack of color evolution implies that it is not a supernova and instead is strongly suggestive of a constant temperature shock... MORE

Understanding extreme quasar optical variability with CRTS: II. Changing-state quasars

Graham, M.J., et al., 2020, MNRAS, 491, 4925

We present the results of a systematic search for quasars in the Catalina Real-time Transient Survey exhibiting both strong photometric and spectroscopic variability over a decadal baseline. We identify 111 sources with specific patterns of optical and mid-IR photometric behavior and a defined spectroscopic change. These "Changing-State" quasars (CSQs) form a higher luminosity sample to complement existing sets of "Changing-Look" AGN and quasars in the literature...

The Zwicky Transient Facility: Science Objectives

Graham, M.J., et al., 2019, PASP, 131, 078001

The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a public-private enterprise, is a new time-domain survey employing a dedicated camera on the Palomar 48-inch Schmidt telescope with a 47 deg2 field of view and an 8 second readout time. It is well positioned in the development of time-domain astronomy, offering operations at 10% of the scale and style of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) with a single 1-m class survey telescope. The public surveys will cover the observable northern sky every three nights in g and r filters and the visible Galactic plane every night in g and r. Alerts generated by these surveys are sent in real time to brokers...



Deep modeling of quasar variability

Tachibana Y., Graham, M.J. et al., 2020, submitted

Quasars have long been known as intrinsically variable sources, but the physical mechanism underlying the temporal optical/UV variability is still not well understood. We propose a novel nonparametric method for modeling and forecasting the optical variability of quasars utilizing an autoencoder neural network to gain isight into the underlying processes. The autoencoder is trained with ~15,000 decade-long quasar light curves obtained by the Catalina Real-time Transient Survey selected with negligible flux contamination from the host galaxy. The autoencoder's performance in forecasting the temporal flux variation of quasars... MORE

The first high-redshift changing-look quasars

Ross, N.P., et al., 2019, submitted

We report on three redshift z>2 quasars with dramatic changes in their C IV emission lines, the first sample of changing-look quasars (CLQs) at high redshift. This is also the first time the changing-look behaviour has been seen in a high-ionisation emission line. SDSS J1205+3422, J1638+2827, and J2228+2201 show interesting behaviour in their observed optical light curves, and subsequent spectroscopy shows significant changes in the C IV broad emission line, with both line collapse and emergence being displayed on rest-frame timescales of ~240-1640 days...