Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Laughlin, Greg


Over the past three decades, complementary lines of evidence have each provided tantalizing hints about the underlying mechanisms driving the diverse set of planetary system architectures. This dissertation leverages dynamics to synthesize the various components of planetary systems, including stars, planets, and minor planets. My work progresses at the intersection of subfields, drawing evidence from both solar system and exoplanet studies to advance a cohesive picture of planetary system evolution. This dissertation is fundamentally focused on interactions between the components of planetary systems. As a result, it is organized into three segments detailing the relationship between these components. A brief summary is provided as follows. Part I (Chapter 2): The Star-Minor Planet Connection. This chapter explores the use of occultation measurements, in which foreground asteroids briefly block out the light of background stars, as a mechanism to precisely probe the positions of minor planets within the solar system. We demonstrate that this method can be applied to constrain the presence of neighboring masses, including the predicted ``Planet Nine'', in the distant solar system. Part II (Chapters 3-4): The Planet-Minor Planet Connection. These two chapters examine how minor planets can inform our understanding of planets more broadly. In Chapter 3, we describe a novel algorithm developed to directly search for distant solar system objects relevant to the Planet Nine hypothesis using data from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Then, in Chapter 4, we demonstrate that the long-period Neptune-mass exoplanet population suggested by protoplanetary disk images can also efficiently eject neighboring minor planets, accounting for the high rate of observed interstellar objects passing through the solar system. Part III (Chapters 5-7): The Star-Planet Connection. These three chapters investigate the relationship between stars and planets in two distinct ways: through compositional studies and through dynamical analyses. In Chapter 5, we describe the development of a machine learning algorithm that rapidly extracts stellar parameters, including 15 elemental abundances, from input optical stellar spectra. In Chapter 6, we introduce the Stellar Obliquities in Long-period Exoplanet Systems (SOLES) survey to investigate the origins of exoplanet spin-orbit misalignments. Finally, in Chapter 7 we conduct a population study of the stellar obliquity distribution that provides evidence for high-eccentricity migration and tidal damping as the two key mechanisms crafting the dynamical evolution of hot Jupiters.