Kaew Samaporn Tinyanont

I am a graduate student in astronomy at California Institute of Technology.
I study supernovae and other stellar eruptions and explosions using various tools in the infrared with Mansi Kasliwal. I built one of those tools, a low-resolution spectropolarimeter called WIRC+Pol, with Dimitri Mawet to probe the shape of supernovae, dust producing massive stars, clouds and haze in atmospheres of brown dwarfs, and more. See my research summary on this website or click below for my ADS publication list and my CV.


  • PhD in Astrophysics expected 2020, California Institute of Technology
  • MS in Astrophysics 2016, California Institute of Technology
  • BS in Physics 2015, Harvey Mudd College

Supernova Polarization in the Infrared

Spectropolarimetry has revealed asymmetry in the supernova ejecta, but where is this asymmetry? Theoretical simulations show that the explosion mechanism of core-collapse supernovae is highly asymmetric, affecting the center part of the ejecta. While optical polarization likely arises from electron scattering in the center of the ejecta, it could also be from dust scattering in the circumstellar medium. Infrared observations can break this degeneracy since dust scattering is less effective at these wavelengths. I am conducting a survey of brightest supernovae with WIRC+Pol to produce the first catalog of supernova polarization in the near-infrared.

Infrared Spectropolarimetry with WIRC+Pol

Spectropolarimetry is a powerful but underutilized tool in observational astronomy. It provides information on the geometry of astrophysical sources even though they are unresolved by comparing intensity of light along different electric field orientations. WIRC+Pol is a new low-resolution near-infrared spectropolarimeter at the prime focus of the mighty 200-inch Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory. I lead the development of the Data Reduction Pipeline for WIRC+Pol. I also designed the slit mask of the instrument and helped with commissioning and designing best observational practices for the instrument.

Dust and Molecules Around Core-Collapse Supernovae

Massive stars end their lives in energetic core-collapse supernovae. After the initial firework has settled, the ejecta expand and cool, allowing dust and molecules to form. I use infrared observations from 1-10 μm to monitor these massive stellar deaths from before the explosion until several years after. The rarity of these observations mean that everytime we look, there is something new and surprising. For SN 2017eaw, I found evidence for close in CSM from a high-velocity helium absoprtion feature, albeit no signs of variability from a mass ejection event in the progenitor star in the last year pre-explosion. I also found the carbon monoxide emission profile and evolution that are similar to that in SN 1987A. For SN 2014C, I found sign of silicate dust emission at 10 micron; first time for an interacting supernova. Observations point to a binary progenitor system with detached CSM ring or shell, much like that around RY Scuti.

Outreach Activities

Diffusing knowledge to the public is as important as gaining them. After all, they paid for our research! I am an active member of the Caltech Astronomy outreach team and have served as event organizer, speaker, Q&A panel member, photographer, and telescope operator. Our event schedule could be found here. You can watch my public talk on brown dwarfs below.

About Me

I am originally from Thailand, and have a Thai name, which could be confusing. The first name Samaporn is my legal name and the name used in my publications. However, I go by my nickname Kaew, which was given by my parents and has nothing to do with my first name. The last name is Tinyanont, and in Thailand we almost never use last name to address anyone ever.

Get in touch

Please contact me via email if you have any questions about my work!

  • Email

    st [at] astro.caltech.edu
  • Mailing Address

    1200 E California Blvd. MC 149-17
    Pasadena, CA 91125
  • Social Media