Erik Petigura L&S Sciences
Oxygen in Extra-Solar Planetary Systems
Oxygen is the third most abundant element in the universe behind hydrogen and helium. However, measuring its abundance in stars is surprisingly difficult. This is because oxygen transition lines are weak, hard to model, or contaminated with other lines. Recently, new techniques for measuring the oxygen content from stellar spectra have been developed. I will apply these techniques to the nearest 1000 solar-type stars and measure their oxygen content. The oxygen content in stars plays an important role in planet formation. Specifically, the ratio of carbon to oxygen is critical in determining whether rocky planets are composed primarily of silicates (like ours) or carbon compounds. This work will shed light on how the earth compares to the over 300 extra-solar planets discovered to date.