Ben Tofflemire

Graduate Student

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Office: 6511C Sterling Hall

Research Interests:

I study the formation and early evolution of binary stars. Specifically, I carry out long-term observational monitoring campaigns to characterize how young binary star systems interact with the surrounding protoplanetary material left over from star formation. I am generally interested in the formation and evolution of binary stars, the structure and evolution of protoplanetary disks, accretion diagnostics, signatures of magnetic reconnection, and time-domain astrophysics.

CV (PDF) | Personal Website


I am a PhD candidate looking forward to defending my thesis in the spring of 2018!

During my time here I have studied recurrent novae, open star clusters, and I am now finishing my thesis on characterizing the interaction between young binary stars and their protoplanetary disks. Binary stars, two gravitationally bound stars orbiting a common center-of-mass, are a common outcome of star formation, yet their formation remains poorly understood.

My thesis focuses on the “pre-main sequence” phase of star formation where the evolution of stars and the formation of planets is governed by the interplay between the star and it's protoplanetary disk. The star-disk interaction has been extensively characterized in case of single stars but is fundamentally different for binary stars. I test models of the binary-disk interaction through long-term observational campaigns monitoring accretion diagnostics with the goal of better understanding the formation of stars and planets in binary environment.

Originally from the suburbs of Portland (OR), I came to Madison by way of Seattle where I did my undergraduate work at the University of Washington. I enjoy playing and listening to music, soccer, sailing, and being outside.

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