Award Date

May 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Physics and Astronomy

First Committee Member

Jason Steffen

Second Committee Member

Zhaohuan Zhu

Third Committee Member

Rebecca Martin

Fourth Committee Member

Elisabeth Hausrath

Number of Pages



I analyze new HIRES Radial Velocity (RV) data in conjunction with transit mid-times and uncertainties from the full 17 quarters of Kepler data to reassess the orbital parameters of the Kepler-36 system. Six additional RV measurements were taken by the Keck-HIRES spectrograph from September 21, 2021 to October 11, 2021. I carry out a differential evolution Markov Chain Monte Carlo-based (DEMCMC) analysis to infer improved orbital elements for the two known planets in the system. Leveraging additional information provided by the new RV measurements, I extend this DEMCMC analysis to a possible three-planet configuration. I explore the likelihood of a third planet using common statistical tests as comparison tools for my fitted two-planet and three-planet models of the Kepler-36 system. My analysis favors a three-planet model containing a previously-undetected planet with a mass of an orbital period near 43 Earth-masses and an orbital period near 170 days. Should future observations of this system further support the presence of this third planet, it will place significant constraints on the formation and dynamical evolution of this system—which produced the inner planet pair in such close proximity to each other, with a period ratio near 7:6.


Astrophysics and Astronomy | Other Physics | Physics

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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