John Hernlund: Current Research
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My current research is centered on constraining the above function f(). In other words, I want to know how the style of planet accretion influences the state and evolution of the planet it produces. By accretion I mean the manner in which a planet forms from the proto-planetary disc orbiting a young star, with variables that include the size distribution of accreting bodies, the rate/timing of mass additions to the planetary embryo, composition of accreting material (and its temporal variations), early vs. late volatile addition, involvement of nebular gas, etc.. In principle, elucidation of f() can explain the diversity of planets in the universe from their origins, and allows us to better understand the entire family of planets orbiting a star rather than just focusing on one planet alone. Answering this question requires coupling planet formation theory and planet evolution theory. I use the term "magma ocean studies" to describe this integration, in reference to the large molten regions in which a proto-planet is forged during accretion.

Is f() a one-to-one function or is it multiply valued? In other words, is planet evolution deterministic, or can one planet end up with an entirely different evolution than another nearly identical planet?