Meredith Hughes, assistant professor of astronomy, received a grant from the National Science Foundation to support her research on “Dust and Gas in Debris Disks Reveal the Origins of Planetary Systems.” The grant, awarded on April 21, is worth $532,943.
Hughes’ research focuses on understanding the formation and evolution of planetary systems. She particularly studies the huge disks of gas and dust surrounding a young star, which can give insight into how and when a star planet might form. The disk is made up of “junk” left over from the star’s formation.
The main technique Hughes uses to observe these circumstellar disks involves collecting radio waves. Invisible to the human eye, radio light allows astronomers to peer into dense dust clouds and trace the motions of small molecules.
Read more about Hughes’ research on planetary system formation in these past articles: