Exoplanets and Astrochemistry

Exoplanets and Astrochemistry Faculty

Thomas Beatty

Position title: Assistant Professor

Email: tgbeatty@wisc.edu

Juliette Becker

Position title: Assistant Professor

Email: juliette.becker@wisc.edu

Zoe Todd

Position title: Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Astronomy

Email: zrtodd@wisc.edu

Susanna Widicus Weaver

Position title: Vozza Professor of Chemistry and Astronomy

Email: slww@chem.wisc.edu

Ke Zhang

Position title: Assistant Professor

Email: ke.zhang@wisc.edu

Prebiotic Astrochemistry

Our group conducts research in the emerging field of prebiotic astrochemistry where we investigate the chemical mechanisms in space that lead to the development of biological systems. Our research draws from the forefronts of laboratory spectroscopy, observational astronomy, and chemical modeling. It is only through this type of fully integrated research combining spectroscopy, observations, and modeling that we will fully understand the mechanisms driving interstellar chemistry and the pathways for the formation of life.

Research group run by Susanna Widicus Weaver

Earth is still the only habitable place in the Solar system as far as we know. How can we find another habitable planet? This fundamental question drives us to study planetary systems beyond the Solar system. Observations over the past decade have revealed that planetary systems are ubiquitous in the Universe. The next goal is to identify if any habitable worlds exist. To achieve this goal, we need to understand the whole history of how planets form and evolve. Planets form in gas-and dust-rich circumstellar disks around young stars. The physical and chemical properties of these disks determine fundamental features of a planetary system, from the number of giant and rocky planets, to the amount of life-crucial elements in the planetary cores and atmospheres. Therefore, we strive to constrain the properties of these disks and to identify how life-crucial elements flow into planets during planet formations.

Research group run by Ke Zhang