The Ongoing Evolution of Planetary Systems: Instabilities and Bombardment
Our concept of the evolution of planetary systems has changed radically over the last two decades: from one of largely static systems to one of continually evolving systems that pass through instabilities. These instabilities can lead to the ejection and rearrangement of planets as well as the bombardment of the Earth and other planets by comets and asteroids. In this talk, I'll review some recent work studying how planetary systems change as they age, both in our solar system and around other stars.
Nathan Kaib is a professor of astronomy at the University of Oklahoma. He was born in Cleveland, OH, obtained his PhD from the University of Washington, and joined the University of Oklahoma in 2015. His group's research focuses on the formation and evolution of planetary systems, those of both our Sun and other stars. In our own solar system, we study how the orbital distribution of icy bodies beyond Neptune can constrain the Sun's birth cluster as well as the degree that the Sun has migrated within the Milky Way during its lifetime. In addition, we have been studying how the giant planets orbits have evolved over the history of the solar system and how this has affected the long-term stability of the inner terrestrial planets. Finally, we have recently been using simulations of terrestrial planet formation to determine the probability that the proto-Earth and the Moon-forming impactor (Theia) were isotopically identical. (The Moon and Earth have virtually identical oxygen isotope ratios.)
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