Schedule Mar 14, 2017
Is there a Tatooine? The three-body problem & beyond
Kaitlin Kratter, University of Arizona & KITP

The past twenty years have seen a revolution in our knowledge of planets outside our solar system, driven entirely by improvements in the sensitivity of observations. In this field, the theorists have been forced to play a game of catchup. Tonight, I will fill you in on some of our theoretical progress by focusing on planetary systems with exotic dynamics, namely planets that reside in star systems containing more than one sun. To understand these systems, I'll begin with a problem in classical celestial mechanics, the so-called "Three-Body Problem". Though seemingly simple, it is notoriously difficult to solve exactly. Indeed, it has been proved that there exists no general analytic solution for the motion of three gravitationally interacting objects. Nonetheless, I will show how we can use celestial mechanics and computer simulations to understand "Tatooine-like" systems and their parent stars. Understanding the origins of such systems has implications for mysteries ranging from the progenitors of supernovae to the reionization of the universe after the formation of the first galaxies.

Kaitlin Kratter

Kaitlin Kratter received her PhD from the University of Toronto and joined the Astronomy Dept. at Arizona, after positions at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and CU Boulder. Her work focuses on the extremes of star and planet formation, including planetary systems orbiting multiple stars. When not exploring the Universe from her office, she enjoys running in Arizona.s spectacular desert mountain ranges.

Introduction by Lars Bildsten

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