Debris disk morphology; planet-disk interactions; planetary system dynamics; planetesimal collisions
B.S., Mathematics, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), 2009
M.S., Applied Physics, UMBC, 2011
Ph.D., Physics, UMBC, 2015
Erika Nesvold is interested in the interaction between a debris disk and any planets orbiting in or near the disk. She models this interaction to determine how asymmetries and features observed in a disk can indicate the presence of an unseen exoplanet and even constrain its mass and orbit.
Nesvold has developed a debris disk model named SMACK to study this interaction. SMACK is the first debris disk model to simultaneously model the dynamical and collisional evolution of the planetesimals in a disk in 3D. Nesvold has used SMACK to demonstrate how catastrophic collisions between planetesimals can change the morphology of a disk and affect our predictions about the exoplanets in the system.