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NSF Fellowship | Exoplanet Dynamics | Advisor: Fred Adams
PhD Research: The burgeoning field of exoplanets has resulted in the discovery of nearly ten thousand planets around distant stars via a variety of observational methods (radial velocities, transit photometry, microlensing, direct imaging). This growing population of planets presents a statement on the current state of these systems, but it remains a largely open question both how these individual systems formed and what exactly are the specific mechanisms that dictate their evolution. During her time at the University of Michigan, Juliette Becker attacked this problem with a combination of observational and theoretical methods, using data as an inspiration for a more general dynamical analysis of planetary orbits. Becker used Laplace-Lagrange secular theory to predict the excitation of inclination in tightly packed, multi-planet systems, with the aim to better understand the multi-planet Kepler sample.
Exciting Discovery: Along with her advisor, Becker and colleagues discovered a hot Jupiter system with two close-in planetary companions using data from the Kepler space telescope. It is the first hot Jupiter found with any close-in planets. This new discovery will help scientists who are trying to understand how planets form and migrate in solar systems.
Faculty Access: “It’s a very positive, welcoming department. The faculty-to-student ratio is amazing. You can really interact with all of the faculty. They are accessible and actually have time to have discussions and answer questions for you.”