Scott J. Kenyon uses observations and numerical simulations to study the formation of stars and planetary systems. He was among the first to show that young stars with ages of only 1 million years accrete material from surrounding disks of gas and dust. These disks typically contain enough material for a planetary system. Today, he develops numerical simulations for the formation of planetary systems. His calculations were the first to demonstrate that debris disks around the nearby stars Vega and β Pictoris are newly-formed planetary systems containing planets at least as large as Pluto and Mars.
Dr. Kenyon's current research interests include:
- Understanding the formation of the Solar System and other planetary systems. With Ben Bromley, he built Orchestra, a C++ code which simulates how planets grow from a disk of gas and dust.
- Using debris disks to infer the diverse outcomes of planet formation.
- Investigating the implications of the discovery of hypervelocity stars, stars ejected a high velocity from the Galactic center. These stars can travel across the Milky Way and may be an important tracer of the matter distribution in the Galaxy. Kenyon is a co-discoverer of this new class of objects.
- Studying aspects of star formation.
- Analyzing the physical structure and long-term evolution of symbiotic binary stars.