Dr Philip J Carter

Postdoctoral Scholar, University of California, Davis


My research focuses on numerical simulations of planet formation. I am interested in collisions of planetesimals and protoplanets, and the cumulative effect collisions can have on the compositions of growing planets.
I am also interested in the final fates of planetary systems, long after their host star has died and left behind a white dwarf. Polluted white dwarfs appear to accrete remnant planetary material, but it is unclear how this material is delivered. more

Planet Collisions
Image: Gemini Observatory/AURA/Lynette Cook.


I am a postdoctoal scholar in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of California Davis, where I carry out research related to planetary collisions. Previously I was a postdoc in the School of Physics at the University of Bristol. My background is in Astrophysics, having gained my PhD in 2014 from the University of Warwick, where I carried out observational studies of ultra-compact accreting binaries.

Studying the moon
Image: STS.


Philip J Carter
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
University of California Davis
One Shields Avenue
CA 95616

pjcarter (at) ucdavis.edu


Stewart Group

Earth and Planetary Sciences, UC Davis

Movie of the month

Rocky protoplanet accretion in a calm disc

WD debris disc

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December 2019: The energy budgets of giant impacts
In this paper, available on arXiv and soon to be published in JGR: Planets, we explore the exchange of energy during giant impacts, the vaporization of the impactors' mantles, and the state of the resulting body immediately after the impact.

Animations from this paper can be found here.

April 2019: UC Davis Postdoctoral Research Symposium
I discussed giant impacts and moon formation at the UC Davis Postdoctoral Research Symposium.

December 2017: Collisional stripping of planetary crusts
In this paper, published in EPSL, we explore the effects of collisions on the outer crust of planetesimals and planetary embryos. We find that crust is preferentially lost during collisions, and show that this can lead to changes in bulk composition of lithophile elements if reaccretion is inefficient.

Animations from this paper can be found here.

September 2017: Magnesium isotope evidence that accretional vapour loss shapes planetary compositions
In this paper by Hin et al., published in Nature, new measurements are presented that show Earth and other large planetary bodies have isotpically heavier magnesium compositions than primitive meteorites. We examine vapour loss from planetesimals as a consequence of collisions during accretion. Loss of significant mass of vapour from growing planetary embryos could explain the Earth's isotopically heavy Magnesium signature.
See also coverage from: The Washington Post, Space.com, The Independent.