Research

I'm interested in exoplanets around anything and everything in our galaxy, particularly evolved stars and white dwarfs. I'm currently modeling the interaction between migrating warm Jupiters and evolving stars to predict the effect on exoplanet populations and stellar observations. My previous project used computer simulations of exoplanets to investigate the source of heavy elements in white-dwarf atmospheres. You can find the full text of the accepted article here.

Some background on Hot Jupiters

Since the discovery of the first extrasolar planets (planets around other stars) in the early 90s we've learned a tremendous amount about them. Arguably the biggest surprise is the sheer diversity in exoplanets, the likes of which we never would have guessed from looking at our own solar system. Among the most unexpected planets are "Hot Jupiters," planets the mass of Jupiter and larger that orbit their hosts on periods less than 10 days, and in some cases as short as 19 hours. For comparison, Jupiter's period is 11.9 years, nearly 5000 times longer than the shortest-period Hot Jupiters.

Warm Jupiters are a related type of planet, having periods between 10 and 100 days. These types of planets present a mystery to us, as we don't expect gaseous planets like these to be able to form so close to their host stars.

The effects of stellar evolution on migrating Jupiters

As stars evolve they will gradually grow in size, engulfing planets if they grown faster than the planets move outward. When planets are removed depends on the details of their orbit, as well as the physical properties of the star and the planet. Planets on eccentric orbits will be engulfed when their hosts gets near their pericenter. In the case of planets undergoing Kozai oscillations, in which they oscillate between high-eccentricity and high-inclination states, planets will be removed at pericenter of during their high-eccentricity state.

Polluted white dwarfs

White dwarfs (the hot, dense remains of most stars after they die) are expected to have atmospheres composed of exclusively hydrogen and/or helium, as their strong gravity should result in any heavier elements rapidly sinking out.