Location: ERC 548
Scientific Advisor: Jacob L. Bean
Ph.D. Thesis Defense
Defense date: July 7, 2017
Illuminating the Origins of Planets with Solar Twins"
Ph.D. Committee members: Jacob Bean (PhD advisor), Daniel Fabrycky, Mike Gladders, Fred Ciesla, and Al Harper
"Megan's work has dramatically advanced the state-of-the-art for using stellar abundances to understand the formation and diversity of planets. In particular, her remarkable discovery of the chemical homogeneity of Sun-like stars has implications for the compositions of rocky planets beyond our solar system and their suitability for life. Megan also led the observations and analyses for an international exoplanet search program that has already resulted in the discovery of multiple planets."
- Jacob L. Bean, Ph.D. advisor
Thesis Abstract: The compositions of planet-hosting stars may contain vital clues to how their planets formed and what they are made of. However, the challenge of resolving planet-scale abundance differences in the vast photospheres of stars requires a unique approach. In my thesis, I present the results of a five-year-long radial velocity planet search and a companion survey of detailed stellar abundances for 80 solar twin stars. As I will demonstrate, solar twins' chemical compositions can be spectroscopically measured at an unparalleled level of detail. My thesis pairs these precise stellar abundances with information about the stars' planetary systems to give new insights into the connection between stars and their planets. The results of my work shed light on the chemical evolution of stars in the solar neighborhood, the diversity of their planetary systems, and the unusual characteristics of our own Sun.
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