Dr Philip J Carter

University of California, Davis



Research


I am interested in the birth and death of planetary systems.

My research focuses on numerical simulations of planet formation. I am interested in the outcomes of collisions between planetesimals – the building blocks of planets, and higher energy giant impacts, and the cumulative effect these collisions can have on the compositions of growing planets. I study these processes using a combination of N-body and smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulations. The goal is to understand how accretion shapes the chemistry of planets:

> How do growing planets acquire their compositions, and why do planetary systems exhibit a large diversity?
> How do planets become habitable, and why did Earth and Venus acquire such different atmospheres?
> How does the evolution of giant planets affect the growth and evolution of terrestrial planets and asteroids?
> What is the relationship between meteorites and 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. Observations of polluted white dwarfs show that they are accreting material similar in composition to terrestrial planets and asteroids, but it is not fully understood how these remnants of exoplanetary systems are delivered to the white dwarf.



Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

WD debris disc
Image: NASA/ESA/STScI.