First Constraints on Planetary Angular Momentum Evolution

Rotation rates provide a unique window into planet accretion histories and can give us clues as to how they formed. By doubling the number of planetary spin measurements I placed the first constraints on the spin distribution and angular momentum evolution in this mass regime. These constraints show that planetary spin is set very early on in a planet's lifetime, possibly through interactions between a planet and its circumplanetary disk

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An Excess of Jupiter Analogs in Super-Earth Systems

While we know that our own Jupiter and Saturn played a significant role in the formation and evolution of the solar system terrestrial planets, the question remains how might gas giant exoplanet analogs to Jupiter and Saturn impact the formation and evolution of super-Earths, the most common kind of exoplanet? Harnessing the abundance of public RV data for 65 systems hosting inner super-Earths, I searched for long term trends indicating the presence of an outer gas giant companion. I found that super-Earth systems have more Jupiter analogs than you would expect just based on chance, indicating that these outer gas giant planets either actively help super-Earth formation, or are instead signposts of favorable formation conditions.

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Occurrence of Long-Period Gas Giant Planets

Characterizing the statistical properties of long-period gas giant planets presents an exciting avenue to explore how inner solar systems form and evolve. I led a Doppler survey at Keck to search for long-period gas giant companions in 123 known planetary systems. I found that hot gas giants seem to be more likely to have an outer companion than cold gas giants, and that planets in multi-body systems have higher average eccentricities than do single-planet systems. These both indicate that dynamical interactions between planets play an important role in the evolution of these systems.

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Searching for Scatterers

Direct imaging surveys have uncovered an unexpected population of massive gas giants on extremely wide orbits that challenge conventional formation models. One proposed formation pathway is that these companions formed closer in to their host stars and were subsequently scattered out to where we see them today by a more massive body in the system. I led a direct imaging survey using NIRC2 at Keck to search for potential scatterers in these systems.

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