Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Physics and Applied Physics



First Advisor

Zdzislaw Musielak


Planetary science in various forms has become interwoven into human culture during all of known human history. The need and desire to expand our horizons has brought humans from basic forms of observation to the development of space satellites that have (in)directly observed other worlds. A major feat of this enterprise during the last half century has been the develop of numerical tools and theories to determine the orbital stability of multiple objects orbiting a central body. Two special cases of the gravitational N body problem (N = 3,4) have been investigated along with the development of a stability criterion based upon the method of Lyapunov exponents. Additionally, the Lyapunov criterion has been used in the determination of resonances for the case of the circular restricted three-body problem. The Lyapunov criterion and determination of resonances has been used to address a controversial system ν Octantis to ascertain possible ranges of stability that would account for the present observations of a Jupiter-mass planet. The determined stability limits of the planet in ν Octantis demonstrate the possibility of a retrograde planet existing in a binary star system. Additionally the newly discovered circumbinary system Kepler-16 has been investigated for possible habitable planets and moons. This exploration has considered many different orbital, formation, and habitability scenarios for which a habitable world could exist. Finally, the habitability of possible Trojan planets and exomoons in HD23079 has been addressed as well as determination of stability limits in the ongoing work.


Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Physics


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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