My research encompasses a wide range of questions centered around the fundamental problems of star and planet formation. We don’t really understand how stars are produced out of much larger, diffuse, cold gas, nor how planets form and migrate in dusty gas disks.
- How do star-forming clouds arise?
- What determines the masses of stars, and why are stars formed in clusters?
- Why do many stars reside in binary systems, unlike the solar system?
- Are all stars formed with rotating, flattened clouds of dust and gas – disks?
- What are the properties of protostellar/planetary disks, and how do they affect planet formation?
- Can we find signposts of ongoing planet formation in disks?
These are central issues to a broad range of astrophysics, ranging from galaxy formation and evolution to the assemblage of terrestrial planets.
Addressing these and similar questions requires a broad-based approach. Observations are essential to test theories, particularly considering the complexity of the physics involved. Theoretical calculations are necessary to interpret and understand what we are observing, since the information we can derive from astronomical “remote sensing” is always limited.
My research seeks to combine both observational and theoretical efforts. To this end I use a number of observational techniques spanning the electromagnetic spectrum from X-rays to radio waves, with special use of data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, as well as many ground-based observatories. I also work on theoretical models, including numerical simulations of molecular cloud formation, fragmentation into stars and development of the stellar mass spectrum, formation and evolution of protoplanetary disks, and disk-planet interactions.