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Exoplanets & The Solar System

Planet Formation, Planet Dynamics, Protoplanetary Disks

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (SSC)

Since the discovery of the first exoplanet just over twenty years ago, the study of exoplanets has grown explosively. By now, astronomers have discovered thousands of exoplanets, with an incredibly diverse array of properties. This growth will undoubtedly continue into the future, as new kinds of planets are being observed with increasingly advanced telescopes. Faculty in CIERA study exoplanets theoretically and build instruments to directly image them.

Research at CIERA


The groups of Professors Rasio and Lithwick carry out theoretical work and simulations to study the long-term dynamics of planetary systems. Both groups study the chaotic dynamics of multi-planet systems as they evolve. Professor Rasio’s group also studies planet-planet interactions, star-planet interactions and tidal disruptions, and planets in binary star systems.

Professor Ulmer’s group is developing new infrared camera technology to advance our understanding of planetary systems by directly imaging planets around other stars.



High School Summer Research Experience in Astronomy at Northwestern

Deadline: 11:59pm, May 31, 2019

CIERA is pleased to announce the Summer Research Experience in Astronomy at Northwestern for high school students during Summer 2019. This highly-interactive, small-cohort program provides exposure to real astronomy research experiences in an atmosphere of team-style learning, hands-on training, and individual mentorship and advising. Students enrolled in the research experience program will take computer programming



Core Astronomy Faculty