Colloquium

Terrestrial Planet Formation in the Modern Era of Planet-Hunting

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 for understanding how planets form. Dynamical models are powerful tools to probe the formation and evolution of Earth-like planets in environments that differ from our Solar System. 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. I will discuss how exoplanet observations are allowing us to constrain formation mechanisms and, in turn, how these models can be used to help guide target selection for future space observatories like TESS, JWST, and WFIRST.

Followed by wine and cheese in Pupin 1332.

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