Planet Formation and Dynamics
How do exoplanets form? Do they orbit close or far from their stars and how does that affect the physics that take place in their atmospheres and on their surfaces? And, ultimately, what drives planetary systems to evolve differently from each other? Answering questions like these is a primary goal of exoplanet dynamics research. For instance, exoplanets classified as “Hot Jupiter” have no counterpart in our solar system. In contrast to Jupiter, where one orbit around the Sun takes 12 years, we’ve found Hot Jupiters orbiting so close to their stars that one loop around the sun is only a few Earth days long. We think these planets eventually fall into their stars. SEEC scientists are working to figure out why the orbits of Hot Jupiters evolved this way.