Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Physics and Astronomy

First Committee Member

Jason Steffen

Second Committee Member

Rebecca Martin

Third Committee Member

Zhaohuan Zhu

Fourth Committee Member

Arya Udry

Number of Pages



I examine circumbinary terrestrial planet formation in a gas free environment around various binary systems and terrestrial planet formation in a gaseous environment around M-dwarfs. While terrestrial cirumbinary planets have yet to be observed, this is likely due to observational bias. Motivated by recent observations of highly misaligned circumbinary gas disks, I perform a suite of n-body studies to understand the properties of terrestrial planets around various binary systems. In a polar alignment, a circumbinary disk is inclined by 90 degrees relative to the binary orbital plane. I find that terrestrial planet formation in a polar configuration may be as efficient as in a coplanar alignment and that terrestrial planets can form only coplanar or polar to the binary, even if the initial particle disk is misaligned. These findings have implications for how to tailor future observation campaigns focused on detecting terrestrial planets. If highly misaligned terrestrial circumbinary planets are observed in the future, formation mechanisms other than core accretion in a gas free environment will need to be considered. I also consider terrestrial planet formation in a gas disk around a low mass star. In this scenario, planetary building blocks grow in size from pebble accretion and migrate inwards through type-I migration. I present a model for fragmentation, bulk composition tracking, pebble accretion, type-I migration, and eccentricity and inclination dampening to be used in n-body studies of planet formation, and use this model to study the formation of the TRAPPIST-1 planets.


Circumbinary Planets; Pebble Accretion; Planet Formation; Terrestrial Planets


Astrophysics and Astronomy | Physics

File Format


File Size

6800 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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