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Fenghuan (Linda) He

Commonwealth School
Newton, Massachusetts

About Fenghuan (Linda) He

Linda studied exoplanets (planets located outside of our solar system) and found a way to calculate how their orbits would have been changed by dense objects, such as primordial black holes, passing near them. This research might one day help to discover Earth-like planets across the Milky Way.

The Impact of Primordial Black Holes on Exoplanet Systems

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Fenghuan (Linda) He, 17, of Newton, studied exoplanetary systems and how those planets’ orbits may have been changed by close encounters with other objects for her space science project for the Regeneron Science Talent Search. The term “exoplanets” refers to any planet outside our own solar system. To collect her data, Linda customized two computer programs, REBOUND and GALA, which describe solar system dynamics and galactic evolution, respectively, and she wrote custom code to mesh the two pieces of software. This allowed her to estimate the number of exoplanetary systems expected to have encountered a primordial black hole (or a similar compact astrophysical body) and to calculate the resulting changes in orbit. Once enough exoplanets have been discovered and cataloged, Linda’s methods can potentially be used to test for the early existence of objects like primordial black holes.

At Commonwealth School in Boston, Linda is founder and captain of the physics club and heads the math team. Linda’s parents are Meijun Xu and Fangli He.

Beyond the Project

Linda is the founder and CEO of GirlsxMRO, a nonprofit group teaching math research to middle school and teenage girls that has already reached more than 385 students in 14 countries.

FUN FACTS: Linda is a nationally ranked fencer and a three-time All-American First Team awardee. She has competed regularly at tournaments on the national and international levels and even took part in a North America Olympics Qualifier event.

Illustration of 2023 STS finalist Fenghuan (Linda) He by Amy Wike
Illustration by Amy Wike