Giant Planets: Hulks and Banners

Thu, April 30, 2015

Colloquium image for website

Giant planets form the dynamical backbones of planetary systems, muscling aside their lower-mass neighbors while advertising their systems’ formation histories.  Recent discoveries of super-Earths on short period orbits and giant planets at wide separations have turned several classic questions of planet formation on their heads.  Instead of merely asking how giants planets form, we must now explain why they are not more ubiquitous.  In this talk, I will review several recent advances in the theory of giant planet formation.  I will then discuss how we can use observations of giant planets to distinguish between these formation methods, to probe the disks from which planets form, and to organize planetary systems, placing the solar system in context.