Who am I?

I am an astrophysicist and more specifically, a planetary dynamicist.  Astrophysics envelops a broad range of subdisciplines, where one can investigate the life cycles, movements, and even deaths of astronomical bodies.  My research in planetary dynamics explores the motions of small bodies with respect to the larger motions of stars.  Within exoplanets, this can influence our observational and theoretical knowledge to allow for a deeper understanding, or the potential consequences of life on such planets.

Research Interests

One of my main research interests involves the observation and theoretical study of planets with multiple suns.  Like Tatooine, such exoplanets orbit a pair of stars and these exotic worlds are no longer science fiction or theoretical curiosities.  The Kepler Space Telescope has discovered around a dozen binary stars that host at least one circumbinary planet (CBP), where the stellar binary orbit lies completely within the planetary orbit.  Additionally, I am interested in planets that orbit only one star out of the stellar binary.  The nearest star to the Solar System is Proxima Centauri, which orbits the binary star system Alpha Centauri AB.  My work explores how an Earth-like planet would orbit either star in the binary and the consequences for life as we know such a world.

I have also investigated dynamical processes that could have occurred in the early Solar System.  For example, current theories suggest that the Moon formed from a giant impact between two protoplanets and I am interested in the dynamical state of the early Solar System leading up to such an event.  Moreover, the giant planets are likely to have substantially changed their orbits within the early Solar System, where the degree of movement is recorded in the small body populations of the Asteroid or Kuiper Belts.

Check out my Latest Research or see my latest Publications for more about my research activities.

Teaching Interests

I am also an educator, where I seek to improve students knowledge in the classroom and in the lab.  My goal is to engage with students where they build a set of skills that they can utilize in their future endeavors.  To this end, I have mentored both undergraduate and graduate students at several universities.  In this engagement, these students have presented their research results at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society and/or published our findings in a major Astronomical research journal.  I have also assisted undergraduate students to build their knowledge and confidence in the classroom as a visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where I developed both lecture and lab curricula for non-physics majors.

See more about my commitment to teaching and service to the professional community here.

© 2020 by Billy Quarles.