Mysterious exoplanets: epsilon Eridani

Supervisor: Dr. Paul Wiegert

Project Description (Abstract):

Extrasolar planets or 'exoplanets' are planets which orbit not our own Sun, but other stars in the Galaxy. The discovery of these exoplanets has revealed that our planetary system is just one of a wide array of possibly planetary configurations.

The epsilon Eridani planetary system is the second closest to Earth at just over 10 light years from Earth. It has two known planets and two asteroid belts, and has been likened to a young Solar System (Greaves et al 1998). The Hubble Space Telescope

has been used to measure the mass of the planets, but the system is still not completely understood. This project will involve doing computer simulations with a pre-existing computer code of the epsilon Eridani system to explore the interactions of the planets with the asteroid belts. Visualizations of the system will be created to compare the Hubble and other measurements with dynamical models of the system.

Greaves, J. et al, (1998) A Dust Ring around epsilon Eridani: Analog to the Young Solar System,

The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 506, Number 2

Benedict et al (2006), Astronomical Journal, 132:2206-2218.