Dr. Gregory Laughlin

Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics

Office: 279 Interdisciplinary Sciences 
Phone: 831-459-3208
Email: laughlin@ucolick.org

Educational Background:

Research Interests:

Greg Laughlin's research interests are in theoretical astrophysics, with an emphasis on numerical simulations. Current areas of investigation include:

  1. The dynamics of extrasolar planets: Over seventy extrasolar planets have been detected, and more systems are being detected every month. By studying the long-term orbital evolution of the new systems, we can gain insight into their formation, and thus obtain a better understanding of how our own solar system fits into the galaxy's inventory of planets. Other projects include an ongoing observational search for planets around high metallicity stars (in collaboration with Debra Fischer and Geoff Marcy at UC Berkeley), and the coordination of a detection network for transiting extrasolar planets (see http://www.transitsearch.org/)
  2. The hydrodynamics of self-gravitating disks: This work is mainly geared toward understanding the growth and saturation of spiral density waves in protoplanetary disks. Spiral instabilities are a key mechanism for eliciting the transport of angular momentum through nascent planetary systems, and thus are very important to an overall understanding of planet formation.
  3. Stellar evolution: Research topics in this area include the luminosity functions of white dwarfs and low mass stars, the metallicity distribution of stars in the solar neighborhood, the evolution of low mass red giants, and the stellar evolutionary consequences of the giant planet -- stellar metallicity connection.
  4. The long-term evolution of the Universe: In a collaboration with Fred Adams of the University of Michigan, we are studying processes which unfold over timescales greatly exceeding the Hubble Time. These include galactic evolution, the effects of proton decay, and processes involving black holes.