Planet Formation Around M Dwarfs
M stars have been the target of many recent exoplanet searches due to their abundance throughout the galaxy and also their strong planetary transit signals. The influx of recent exoplanet discoveries is causing us to rethink how the planet formation process works. In particular, M stars are extremely luminous during their pre-main sequence phase, which likely has a strong influence on both the thermodynamics and chemistry of the protoplanetary disk. The influence of stellar irradiation on early protoplanetary disks has not been well studied in the context of a fully 3D hydrodynamic treatment. This is something I am working to do with our N-body code ChaNGa.
In addition, I have also been using N-body simulations to look at planetesimal accretion at extremely short orbital periods. There have been a number of STIPs (systems of tightly-packed inner planets) discovered around M stars and whether these planets could have formed in situ or formed further out and then migrated inwards is still up for debate. In particular, planetesimal accretion has not been well studied outside of the context of the Solar System and a better understanding of this process at short orbital periods could help answer some of these questions.