Deborah Lokhorst

Roles and responsibilities

Astrophysicist, Instrument Science Research Fellow. Project and Science Lead of the Dragonfly Spectral Line Mapper and Team Lead of the Dragonfly Telephoto Array. Research expertise in galaxy evolution and formation, and the circumgalactic and intergalactic media in the local Universe.

Current research and/or projects

Currently leading the development and construction of the Dragonfly Spectral Line Mapper (an expansion to the Dragonfly Telephoto Array) with the goal of directly imaging the faintest and largest structures in the Universe.

Research and/or project statements

The cosmic web: In the current cosmological theoretical model of the universe, the cosmic web is a foam-like structure of dark matter that dictates where structures made from "normal" matter, such as planets and stars, will form. Gas is theorized to flow along the filaments of the web, like extragalactic highways between galaxies. The Dragonfly Spectral Line Mapper is designed to “take a picture” of the cosmic web by directly imaging the ultra-faint emission from the gas flowing along the web. 

Galaxy evolution and formation: One of the main mysteries of galaxy evolution is how gas (the majority of which is outside of galaxies and trapped in the "cosmic web") gets into galaxies to fuel star formation and sustain galaxy growth. This is a difficult question to answer due to the near invisibility of gas outside of galaxies, and one the Dragonfly Spectral Line Mapper aims to directly address.

Ultra-low surface brightness imaging: The Dragonfly Telephoto Array is specially designed to carry out astronomical observations of large and faint structures in the universe. Dragonfly has discovered a new class of faint, diffuse galaxies and is currently carrying out an imaging campaign to map the northern hemisphere (matching the footprint of the SDSS) and detect low surface brightness objects to unprecedented levels.


  • Ph.D. (Astronomy & Astrophysics), University of Toronto, 2021
  • B.Sc. (Hons.) Combined Physics & Astronomy, University of Victoria, 2015

Key publications

"The pathfinder Dragonfly Spectral Line Mapper: pushing the limits for ultra-low surface brightness spectroscopy"
Lokhorst, Deborah M.; Chen, Seery; Pasha, Imad; Shen, Jeff; Malakhov, Evgeni I.; Abraham, Roberto G.; van Dokkum, Pieter

"A Giant Shell of Ionized Gas Discovered near M82 with the Dragonfly Spectral Line Mapper Pathfinder"
Lokhorst, Deborah; Abraham, Roberto; Pasha, Imad; van Dokkum, Pieter; Chen, Seery; Miller, Tim; Danieli, Shany; Greco, Johnny; Zhang, Jielai; Merritt, Allison; Conroy, Charlie

"A Nascent Tidal Dwarf Galaxy Forming within the Northern H I Streamer of M82"
Pasha, Imad; Lokhorst, Deborah; van Dokkum, Pieter G.; Chen, Seery; Abraham, Roberto; Greco, Johnny; Danieli, Shany; Miller, Tim; Lippitt, Erin; Polzin, Ava; Shen, Zili; Keim, Michael A.; Liu, Qing; Merritt, Allison; Zhang, Jielai

"Wide-field ultra-narrow-bandpass imaging with the Dragonfly Telephoto Array"
Lokhorst, Deborah M.; Abraham, Roberto G.; van Dokkum, Pieter; Chen, Seery

"On the Detectability of Visible-wavelength Line Emission from the Local Circumgalactic and Intergalactic Medium"
Lokhorst, Deborah; Abraham, Roberto; van Dokkum, Pieter; Wijers, Nastasha; Schaye, Joop

Deborah Lokhorst

Deborah Lokhorst

Assistant Research Officer
Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics
5071 West Saanich Road
Victoria, British Columbia V9E 2E7
Preferred language: English


Space sciences, Astronomy, Observational astronomy