The Lifetimes Of Planetary Systems Around Small Stars (Sarah Ballard, MIT)

Tuesday February 19, 2019 4:00 pm

The Solar System furnishes our most familiar planetary architecture: many planets, orbiting nearly coplanar to one another. However, a typical system of planets in the Milky Way orbits a much smaller M dwarf star. Small stars present a very different blueprint in key ways, compared to the conditions that nourished evolution of life on Earth. Using ensemble studies of hundreds-to-thousands of exoplanets orbiting small stars, I aim to understand the links between planet formation from disks, orbital dynamics of planets, and the content and observability of planetary atmospheres. These processes bear upon the potential for M dwarf systems to evolve and sustain life. In particular, I will address the conflicting hypotheses about the longevity of M dwarf planetary systems over Gyr timescales. In addition to summarizing current knowledge of the large-scale patterns of planets orbiting small stars, I will describe an observational mechanism to test the hypothetical disruption timescale of these planetary systems. Using the forthcoming TESS yield of planets orbiting M dwarfs, we will be able to investigate whether self-disruption commonly occurs in these planetary systems, or whether they exhibit the long-term stable conditions necessary for life to evolve.

Host: Ian Crossfield

Refreshments at 3:45pm

Talk begins at 4:00pm


Event Contact

Debbie Meinbresse