Astronomy and Astrophysics

Exploring outer space to find distant planets and understand their origin.

An artist’s impression of the planet Proxima b orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to Earth’s sun. Credit M. Kornmesser/European Southern Observatory

Our Research

We aim to discover and understand extrasolar planets, through pioneering detection studies, observations of their nebular birthplaces, modeling of their formation, and using the detection of small bodies in the outer Solar System to understand the origin of our own planetary system.

Research Staff

Alan P. Boss - Theoretical astrophysics; stellar and planetary system formation; extrasolar planets formation and detection

Paul Butler - Observational astrophysics; stellar spectroscopy; precision Doppler instrumentation; extrasolar planets; Sun-like stars; supergiants and Cepheid variable stars

John E. Chambers - Planetary formation theory; planetary dynamics; extrasolar planets

Scott S. Sheppard - Small bodies in the solar system including comets, asteroids, satellites, moons, Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud objects; star, planet and solar system formation; brown dwarfs.

Johanna TeskeExoplanet interior, atmospheric, and host star composition; high-resolution spectroscopy; precision radial velocity exoplanet mass measurements; stellar jitter; interdisciplinary studies of exoplanet diversity; binary exoplanet host stars; astronomical instrumentation.

Alycia J. Weinberger - Observational astrophysics; planet formation and circumstellar disks; star formation; high angular resolution imaging

Technical Staff

Adriana Kuehnel - Scientific Programmer & IT Specialist

Postdoctoral Fellows and Associates

Jaehan Bae - Ph.D., Astronomy, University of Michigan (2017) 

Matthew Clement - Ph.D., Astrophysics, University of Oklahoma (2019) 

Yusuke Fujimoto - Ph.D., Astronomy, Hokkaido University (2016)

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Tools of the Trade

We have access to Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, including the twin 6.5-m Magellan telescopes. EPL scientists design and develop advanced instrumentation for high-precision radial velocity measurements of distant stars and high-resolution infrared spectroscopic investigations of their compositions and that of their surrounding planetary disks.

Theoretical approaches utilize high-performance computing systems both on campus and the Carnegie Memex cluster.

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