Nathan Kaib

Assistant Professor



B.S. 2002 Case Western Reserve University

Ph.D. 2010 University of Washington



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Ph: (405) 325-7064

Office: 327 Nielsen Hall


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Research Description

My research focuses on the formation and evolution of planetary systems, those of both our Sun and other stars. In our own solar system I'm interested in how the orbital distribution of icy bodies beyond Neptune can constrain the Sun's birth cluster as well as the degree that the Sun has migrated within the Milky Way during its lifetime. In addition, I have been studying how the giant planets orbits have evolved over the history of the solar system and how this has affected the long-term stability of the inner terrestrial planets. Finally, I have recently been using simulations of terrestrial planet formation to determine the probability that the proto-Earth and the Moon-forming impactor (Theia) were isotopically identical. (The Moon and Earth have virtually identical oxygen isotope compositions.)

As far as exoplanetary systems are concerned, I have a strong interest in how the presence of a binary stellar companion can affect the formation and evolution of planets. Counterintuitively, I have shown that the most distantly orbiting stellar companions can have dramatic effects on planetary systems, causing violent instabilities billions of years after the planetary systems have formed. I am currently investigating specific systems in which this may have occurred, such as HD80606 and HD20782.

Selected Publications

"The feeding zones of terrestrial planets and insights into Moon formation," Kaib, N.A., Cowan, N.B., Icarus, 252, 161-174, (2015) ADS: 2015Icar..252..161K

"Brief Follow-up on Recent Studies of Theia's Accretion," Kaib, N.A., Cowan, N.B., (2015) ADS: 2015arXiv150606132K

"Very Wide Binary Stars as the Primary Source of Stellar Collisions in the Galaxy," Kaib, N.A., Raymond, S.N., The Astrophysical Journal, 782, 60, (2014) ADS: 2014ApJ...782...60K

"Planetary system disruption by Galactic perturbations to wide binary stars," Kaib, N.A., Raymond, S.N., Duncan, M., Nature, 493, 381-384, (2013) ADS: 2013Natur.493..381K

"Sedna and the Oort Cloud around a migrating Sun," Kaib, N.A., Roskar, R., Quinn, T., Icarus, 215, 491-507, (2011) ADS: 2011Icar..215..491K

"55 Cancri: A Coplanar Planetary System That is Likely Misaligned with Its Star," Kaib, N.A., Raymond, S.N., Duncan, M., The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 742, L24, (2011) ADS: 2011ApJ...742L..24K

"Reassessing the Source of Long-Period Comets," Kaib, N.A., Quinn, T., Science, 325, 1234-1237, (2009) ADS: 2009Sci...325.1234K

Research Group

Billy Quarles, Post Doc
Matt Clement, Graduate Student