Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Aerospace, Physics, and Space Sciences

First Advisor

Samuel T. Durrance

Second Advisor

Daniel Batcheldor

Third Advisor

Darin Ragozzine

Fourth Advisor

Semen Koksal


The spin angular momentum of single Main Sequence stars has long been shown to follow a primary power law of stellar mass, J ∝ Mα, excluding stars of <2 solar masses. Lower mass stars rotate more slowly with and have smaller moments of inertia, and as a result they contain much less spin angular momentum. A secondary power law describes the upper bound of angular momenta of these less massive stars with a steeper slope. The Solar System’s orbital angular momentum, however, is of the same order of magnitude as the primary law, whereas the Sun’s spin angular momentum is consistent with the secondary relationship. This suggests that planets are an important clue to answering questions about stellar angular momentum loss and transfer. With recent advances in exoplanet discovery and characterization, the angular momenta of exoplanetary systems can now be determined. A method is developed to calculate planetary system angular momenta from the spin and orbital angular momenta of a sample including 426 host stars and 532 planets. To maximize the size of the working sample, systems discovered by both the transit and radial velocity methods are included, and the biases of both techniques are identified. Self-consistent stellar moment of inertia parameters are interpolated from grids of stellar evolutionary models. Main Sequence host stars range from 0.6 to 1.7 solar masses, and their angular momenta are shown to agree well with previous studies of stellar angular momentum, generally falling on or below the appropriate power law, and exhibiting detection method biases. The systems’ angular momenta, including both the planetary orbital and stellar spin components, are widely spread above and below the primary power law, but on average agree well with the primary relationship. The results indicate that the primary power law describes angular momenta of stars of <2 solar masses well, when planetary angular momentum is included. This relationship also holds across host star evolutionary classifications. For 90% of the systems, the angular momentum contained in the planets is greater than the spin angular momentum of the host star, a characteristic shared by the Solar System. Undetected planets contribute significant bias to the system angular momentum as well as to the proportion of angular momentum contained in the planets. This bias is used to identify systems which are likely to harbor additional planets in already known planetary systems, assuming the Solar System’s proportions are typical.


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