Daniel P. Whitmire, Ph.D.
Research in comet dynamics includes investigation of anomalous patterns in the distribution of the aphelia and other orbital parameters of new Oort cloud comets. This anomalous pattern manifests itself in part as an overpopulation of comet aphelia along a great circle in the sky. Our model (Matese, Whitman and Whitmire, Icarus 141, 354-366, 1999; Matese and Whitmire, Icarus, 211, 926-938 (2011) to explain this overpopulated great circle and other orbital correlations requires a distant Oort cloud giant planet, acting in concert with the galactic tide. Previous IR surveys (IRAS and 2mass) place only modest limits on the mass and distance of the conjectured planet. The optimum wavelength for detection is ~5 microns and well within the limit of the recently completed WISE IR Survey. Data analysis and follow up confirmations should be completed by mid 2013.
My research in astrobiology (in collaboration with Ray T. Reynolds, John Matese, Jim Kasting, Chris Chyba, and Laurance Doyle) has focused on the size and evolution of habitable zones around main sequence stars, the formation of habitable planets in binary star systems, and most recently the stellar distribution of habitable planets and intelligent life.
Selected publications in collaboration with the above coauthors:
"Persistent evidence of a Jovian mass companion in the Oort cloud" J.J. Matese and D.P. Whitmire, Icarus, 211, 926-938 (2011), (doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2010.11.009).
"The distribution of stars most likely to harbour intelligent life" Astrobiology, 9, No. 7, 617-621 (2009).
"A wide-binary solar companion as a possible origin of Sedna-like objects" Earth, Moon and Planets, 97, 459-470 (2006).
"The Pioneer 10 anomalous acceleration and Oort cloud comets" Icarus, 165, 219-222 (2003).
"Cometary evidence of a massive body in the outer Oort cloud" Icarus 141, 354-366, 1999.
"Habitability and the origins of life", Chapter in Protostars and Planets IV, eds. V. Manning, A.P. Boss, S.S. Russell, Univ. Arizona Press, Tucson, 1365-1393 (2000).
"Habitable planet formation in binary star systems" Icarus, 132,196 - 203 (1998).
"Tidal imprint of distant galactic matter on the Oort comet cloud" Astrophysical J. (Letters), 472, L41 (1996).
"A slightly more massive sun as an explanation for warm temperatures on early Mars" J. Geophysical Research, 100, 5457 - 5464 (1995).
"Habitable zones around main sequence stars" Icarus, 101, 108 - 128 (1993)
"Dust clouds around red giant stars: Evidence of sublimating comet disks?" Icarus, 81, 24 - 30 (1989).
"A brown dwarf companion as an explanation of the asymmetry in the beta pictoris disk" Astron. Astrophys. (Letters), 203, L13 - L15 (1989).
"Periodic comet showers and Planet X" Nature, 313, 36 - 38 (1985).
"Are periodic mass extinctions driven by a distant solar companion?" (NEMESIS), Coauthor A.A. Jackson, IV, Nature, 308, 713 - 715 (1984).
"The 6 Day Photometric and Spectroscopic Periods in SS 433", Astron. Astrophys., l06, L9 (l982).
My most interesting unread papers:
"Relativistic Spaceflight and the Catalytic Nuclear Ramjet", Acta Astronaut, 2, 497 (l975).
"Nuclear Waste Spectrum as Evidence of Technological Extraterrestrial Civilizations", coauthor D. Wright, Icarus, 42 l49 (l980).