|Description||Lorin Swint Matthews, Ph.D.|
Department of Physics
The Growth of Cosmic Dust Bunnies:
How to Build a Solar System
The Hubble and Kepler Space Telescopes have discovered thousands of planets orbiting other stars, many of which are quite different from our own. Human curiosity leads us to ask if other Earth-like planets exist which can support life. What are the physical processes which influence the formation “hot Jupiters”, warm planets with liquid water, or frozen snowballs?
Planet formation is actually very efficient on astronomical time scales, the process taking only ten million years or so of a star’s multi-billion-year lifetime. After a star is formed from a collapsing cloud of gas and dust, a disk of material orbiting the star remains. Planets form from the material within this disk, starting with micron-sized dust grains sticking together to form centimeter-sized dust bunnies. How these fluffy aggregates grow to solid rocky bodies big enough to interact with each other gravitationally is not yet understood. This talk will describe some of the models we use to study collisional growth.
For more information contact: Dr. Anzhong Wang 254-710-2276