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Title: On the formation, evolution, and destruction of minor planetary bodies
Author: Wilson, Thomas G.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8508 023X
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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Minor planetary bodies can provide information on the history and future of planetary systems, from formation conditions in the Solar nebula to destruction processes of planets. Comets have long been heralded as pristine objects from the formation of the Solar System. Indeed, it is possible to infer the nature of the formation conditions of the Solar System by studying comets. In this thesis, an astrochemical model is used to derive potential initial Solar System conditions from Rosetta data. Importantly, there is a fundamental question not yet concretely answered: are the observed compositions indicative of formation conditions or evolutionary processes? Isomeric ratios can be useful as they may not vary since formation. However, recent results suggest that the water ortho-to-para ratio cannot be used to trace formation conditions, but may be used to probe cometary comae. This thesis presents Herschel observations of four comets and discusses how the observed non-typical water ortho-to-para ratios can help the understanding of evolutionary processes in comets. In addition to probing the Solar System, studying minor planetary bodies around white dwarfs can reveal the fate of these bodies. The evidence of white dwarf planetary systems have been known for a few decades and is inferred by atmospheric metals or circumstellar dust disks. By searching for destroyed planetesimals via these indicators, planetary system architectures, dynamics, and frequency can be inferred. A study of the largest, unbiased Spitzer and Hubble survey of white dwarfs to search for evidence of planetary systems is reported. Circumstellar disks have been thought of as static, however recent results have shown flux variations. In this thesis, a study of all white dwarfs debris disks using Spitzer and WISE data is detailed. Via observations over the longest baseline to date, it is possible to shed light on the destruction processes in these dynamical environments.
Supervisor: Rawlings, J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available