YE Quanzhi (叶泉志)


Hi there!

My name is Quanzhi, you can just call me QZ. I am an astronomer at Caltech/IPAC. I am mostly interested in the small stuff in our Solar System, namely asteroids, comets and meteoroids (which fathered meteors).

For the most part of my work, I use the data collected by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) at Palomar Observatory to chase small asteroids that zip past our Earth, and to understand why and how comets get excited. I also use a range of worldwide facilities provided by the GROWTH consortium to study these intriguing objects.

Outside of my work, I enjoy going out for (non-for-work) stargazing. I also love playing violin/viola/cello in music groups of a variety of sizes.

Photo by Hung-Chin Lin


Professional Experience

Latest Research

Near-Earth Asteroid (3200) Phaethon is a mysterious object: it is associated with the strong Geminid meteor shower, implying that it had been highly active in the past, yet decades of observation showed that it is largely inactive. We used the Hubble Space Telescope to search for small fragments recently ejected from Phaethon. Although we found nothing, we concluded that Phaethon has likely not been very active in the recent decades. We also showed how to take an ugly photo with Hubble!

Ye, Wiegert and Hui (2018), ApJL, 864, 9.

I review the latest research regarding using meteor shower observations to enhance our understanding of active asteroids and dormant comets.

Ye (2018), P&SS in press.

We target a 250-year-old unresolved mystery! Lexell’s Comet was found in 1770 and was then subsequently lost, where could it be? We used a wide range of 21th century techniques – state-of-the-art orbit determination, computer simulation, as well as modern day astronomical observation to try to solve this puzzle. Well, even though we still don’t know where Lexell’s Comet is, we uncovered a number of interesting clues that help you decide how to put your money (in case you want to bet). Bottom line: this could be one of the largest Near-Earth Objects that we know, and chances are good that it is still around!

Ye, Wiegert and Hui (2018), AJ, 155, 163.. See also: AAS Nova post; astrobites post

It was the mid-autumn festival at the small city of Shangri-La in southwestern China, and people went outside for traditional moon-gazing event. Suddenly, a bright bolide appeared, loud booms were heard and the ground shaked for a couple seconds. It turned out that a small asteroid just collide with the Earth in the sky above Shangri-La. In this short research note, I briefly researched this event and calculated where surviving meteorites could have landed.

Ye (2018), E&PP, 1, 170.

`Oumuamua, found in October 2017, is the first known interstellar object that visited our Solar System. We joined the party that greet `Oumuamua with observations and papers. We measured the behavior and color of `Oumuamua, and found that it is not a comet as people have predicted, but more closely resembles a rocky asteroid. We also tried to observe meteors originated from `Oumuamua as an independent test to see if `Oumuamua has recently been active, but also did not detect any.

Ye, Zhang, Kelley and Brown (2017), ApJL, 851, 5.

You can find a list of my publication on NASA/ADS, Google Scholar or Research Gate.


In addition to research, I also love doing outreach. I have written many articles for magazines/blogs and given talks since high school, and still enjoy reaching out to the general public after earning my Ph.D. Most of my outreach work was done in my home country (China). Unsurprisingly, doing outreach in western countries is hugely different from what I have done in China! But I have since found my niche on promoting the communication between China and the West.

Some of my recent outreach works with connection to English-speaking audience:

If you are curious on how much different I am on Mandarin-speaking podcasts, here you go:

You can find me on Twitter or Weibo (Twitter-like service in China).


My Name

Chinese names are written in surname-first order. Strictly speaking, this rule also applies to their English counterparts, even though in daily practice this rule has not been strictly observed. Hence, my name should really be written as Ye Quanzhi, where Ye (pronounced as “Yeh”) is my surname and Quanzhi (pronounced as Ch’üan Chih) is my given name.

“Ye” means “leaf” in Chinese. Ye is also romanized “Yeh”, “Yip”, “Ip” in different spelling systems and variety of spoken Chinese (e.g. Cantonese), and “She” in ancient Chinese. The surname originated as a clan name after the Duke of Ye, the Prime Minister of the State of Chu at circa 500 BCE. Confucius visited the Duke of Ye in 489 BCE, and their conversations were recorded in The Analects.

Last update: 2018 September 10