The Howard group studies the formation and evolution of planets orbiting stars other than the Sun.  We discover and characterize these extrasolar planets using telescopes in Hawaii, California, and in space.  We approach this as observers studying the physical and orbital characteristics of individual planetary systems and the patterns of their ensemble physical properties.  With thousands of planetary systems for comparison, we place our Solar System in a broader context.

Howard is particularly interested in the diversity of small planets.  Within our Solar System, Neptune and Earth are the archetypal small planets, representing low-density ice giants and high-density rocky planets.  In extrasolar systems we see a much greater diversity of structure and composition owing to broadly varying admixtures of the basic planetary ingredients of hydrogen gas, water, rock, and iron.

Some major projects from the Howard group include:

  • Keck Planet Finder (KPF; formerly called SHREK)
  • K2
  • TESS – Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite
  • Radvel
  • Dynamics and Multi-planet Architectures from Kepler
  • Spectroscopy of Atmospheres of Transiting Planets
  • The California-Kepler Survey (CKS)
  • The California Planet Survey (CPS)
  • Eta-Earth Survey
  • Planet Occurrence studies with the Kepler Mission

Prospective students should email Andrew about their interest.