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Althea Moorhead

Postdoctoral Associate
Department of Astronomy
University of Florida

Office: 319-B,
   Bryant Space Science Center
Phone: (352) 294-1859
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University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Ph.D. 2008
University of Arizona, B.S. 2003

Research Field: Astrophysics Theory
Research Focus: Planetary Migration
Research Description:

In the past decade, over 150 planets have been discovered outside of our solar system. These extrasolar planets have very different properties from our own, prompting the development of new theories about solar system formation and evolution. For instance, the discovered planets are very massive, comparable to Jupiter in size, yet live in orbits around their host stars that are tinier than Mercury's. Due to the very hot temperatures encountered at these short distances from stars, it is unlikely that such massive planets are able to form in situ. Instead, we think that these planets form at large radii, and then are shoved inward through friction with a circumstellar disk of dust and gas. Explaining just how the hydrodynamics of the disk affects the planet is a rich and complex problem, and lies at the heart of my research on orbit evolution.

Selected Publications


The distribution of transit durations for Kepler planet candidates and implications for their orbital eccentricities, (A. V. Moorhead, E. B. Ford, et al.), The Astrophysical Journal, 197, 1 (2011).


Eccentricity evolution of giant planet orbits due to circumstellar disk torques, (A. V. Moorhead and F. C. Adams), Icarus, 193, 475-484 (2008).


Giant planet migration through the action of disk torques and planet-planet scattering, (A. V. Moorhead and F. C. Adams), Icarus 178, 517-539 (2005).