Matthew S. Clement
Carnegie Postdoctoral Fellow
Terrestrial planet formation; origin of the Earth and inner solar system; planet embryo formation; GPU computing; collisional evolution of the asteroid belt
B.S., 2010, Astrophysics, U.S. Naval Academy
M.S., 2017, Physics, University of Oklahoma
Ph.D., 2019, Astrophysics, University of Oklahoma
My research interests include the formation and dynamical evolution of the solar system, and that of other similar systems of planets elsewhere in the galaxy which might harbor life. In particular, my work focuses on the formation and long-term dynamical stability of the four terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars). Understanding the evolution of the young solar system provides us with insight as to the likelihood of similar conditions which might support life existing elsewhere in the universe.
However, accurately modeling the late stages of planet accretion is subject to numerical limitations and simplifications. In particular, to keep the calculation tractable, most authors employ integration schemes that neglect collisional fragmentation. The initial planetforming disk, which in reality contained millions of solid objects with a range of masses, must also be approximated with just over a thousand bodies (the majority of which are assumed not to interact gravitationally with one another). Recently, I have been using graphical processing units (gpus; which greatly speed up simulations by performing calculations in parallel) to continue my study of terrestrial planet formation, thoroughly investigate the complex orbital dynamics within the asteroid belt, probe observational constraints on theoretical models by studying the tail-end phase of bombardment and clearing in the young solar system, and reevaluate the common initial conditions used when studying terrestrial planet formation.