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Solving the Puzzles of Terrestrial Planet Formation in the Modern Era of Planet-hunting
Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 3:30pm PDT
N232, room 103
The haul of thousands of planets orbiting distant stars discovered by the Kepler and K2 missions has taught us that Earth-size planets are common. The wide diversity of stellar hosts and planetary system architectures provides a treasure trove of new clues that can shed light on how planets form. I employ state-of-the-art N-body models that include collisional fragmentation to numerically explore the late stages of terrestrial planet formation in systems with different stellar masses and giant planet architectures. These stages are dominated by giant impacts that collectively influence their growth, bulk composition and habitability. By tracking water delivery, core-mass fractions and impact history, I explore which environments are conducive to hosting habitable Earth-like planets. This research supports target selection and observing strategies for future space observatories like TESS, JWST, and WFIRST.