Research:
Solving the Kepler Dichotomy:
The Kepler mission has revolutionized our understanding of the frequencies and properties of planets around Sun-like stars. Upon first glance, an apparent excess of single transit systems appear in the data. We showed that the excess population of single transiting planet systems around solar-like stars can largely be explained by a more complex completeness mapping. Accounting for the order in which the candidate was detected (within the systems light curve), our method is able to replicate the observed population using a signal Poissonian exoplanet multiplicity distribution.
K2 Occurrence Rates:
Upon the failure of two reaction wheels, the Kepler spacecraft was no longer able to remain focused on the same field for extended periods of time, thus concluding the original mission. However, data was able to be collected in 80 day portions from different regions of the galactic plane. We created an automated pipeline for detecting transiting exoplanets from this data, allowing occurrence rate studies to be performed in these different regions of the galaxy. Our early results show that metallicity can effect the occurrence of small transiting planets, providing evidence for a metal driven formation process.
The End Of the Solar System:
In about 7 billion years, long after Mercury, Venus, and Earth have all been engulfed by the red giant solar phase, the Sun will finish fusing elements and begin shedding its outer envelope. During this period, the Sun is expected to lose roughly half of its current mass and the orbits of the outer gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus) will expand by a factor of two in concert. We showed that this orbital expansion leads to Jupiter and Saturn being locked into a 5:2 mean-motion resonance. Furthermore, over the course of the next few billion years, neighboring stars will pass by, gravitationally perturbing the the orbits of the gas giants. Eventually, a large enough stellar flyby will pull Jupiter and Saturn out of this mean-motion resonance configuration and orbital chaos ensues, leading to the eventual ejection of all the remaining Solar System planets. Our simulation shows that the final planet will be ejected from the Solar System in roughly 100 billion years.
Developed Software:
ExoMult - A Forward Modeling Exoplanet Detection Code
This forward modeling program will simulate the detected transiting exoplanet population around the Kepler sample of "solar-like" stars. You can import your own multi-planet system parameters to determine the probability of being detected or you can use an underlying power-law distribution to determine what population would be expected empirically. Multiplicity and its effects on detection efficiency are also considered here.
EDI-Vetter - A Transiting Exoplanet Vetting Tool
This software was designed to vet transit-like signals from the K2 data set. By performing several tests we can automate the vetting of signals in the K2 time series data.
EDI-Vetter Unplugged - A Transiting Exoplanet Vetting Tool
This software uses the EDI-Vetter metrics on Transit Least Squares (TLS) output to vet transit signals and is a user-friendly pip-installable code.
Jon Zink
email: jzink@astro.ucla.edu
: @jonKzink

office: knudsen 3-145n
430 portola plaza, box 951547
los angeles, ca 90095