Daniel P. Whitmire,  Ph.D.

Professor of Physics
The University of  Louisiana at Lafayette

e-mail: whitmire@louisiana.edu

Research Interests:

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: