mountain profile Institute for Astronomy University of Hawaii

Research

 

Circumstellar disks

Understanding the origins of our Solar System and the tremendous diversity of exoplanetary systems are key questions in modern astronomy. Primarily using (sub-)millimeter wavelength telescopes, we have been measuring the dust and gas content of circumstellar disks in different regions to learn about the initial conditions and timescale for planet formation. The Atacama Large Millimeter Array is poised to revolutionize many of the issues discussed in our pre-ALMA review.

We can readily measure the solid content (aka dust) in circumstellar disks from millimeter continuum observations. Measuring the gas mass is much harder but we think we have a way and we are currently working on expanding our parametric modeling to infer gas surface densities.


Older stuff

During my ~25 years as an astronomer, I have followed the advances in radio instrumention to go from studying molecular clouds to individual star formation in dense cores and now to planet formation in disks. Some of this work is summarized in a Protostars and Planets IV review, or at this old research page.

The most long-lasting impact of this is an algorithm, CLUMPFIND, that I developed to analyze the structure in 3-d datasets from spectral line mapping and which, to my amazement, continues to be used today.