College of Sciences

Department of Physics and Astronomy




Xinting Yu

Xinting Yu, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Personal website

Areas of Specialization
  • Astronomy
  • Exoplanets
  • Material Characterization
  • Planetary Science
  • Theoretical Astrophysics
  • Titan


Ph.D. in Planetary Science; Johns Hopkins University
B.S. in Space Physics; University of Science and Technology of China

Research Interests

The main focus of my research is characterizing and understanding planetary materials using experimental material science techniques. My experimental works also interface theoretical modeling with a goal to gain a comprehensive understanding of atmosphere/surface processes and atmospheric-surface interactions in and outside the solar system.

My main research directions can be summarized in the following three categories:

The laboratory perspective: creating a Planetary Material CHaractErization Facility (PMCHEF) and a robust planetary material property database
My main career goal is to build a standardized planetary material characterization facility to characterize a range of planetary materials, including planetary and exoplanetary aerosol analog samples, field samples, meteorites, planetary regolith simulants, and planetary return samples. With the data from PMCHEF, I hope to create a material property database for the community and to support exploration in and outside the solar system.

The theory perspective: experimental data-driven theoretical work to understand atmospheric and surface processes in and outside the solar system
The measured material properties from PMCHEF have been and will enable a range of theoretical studies to understand various processes on real planets. Here are some processes I am interested in studying: cloud formation and cloud-haze interactions in planetary atmospheres, sediment transport and abrasion on planetary surfaces, and outgassing from planetary interiors.

The modeling perspective: feedback between planetary atmospheres and surfaces and identify habitable surfaces on exoplanets
My works at the interface of the solar system/exoplanetary sciences and atmosphere/surface processes have driven me to think about atmosphere-surface feedback on exoplanets. Inspired by the atmospheric composition dichotomy between Titan (with a cold, shallow surface) and Jupiter (with deep/no surface), my recent work has found a new way to indirectly identify solid/liquid surfaces on exoplanets with just atmospheric characterization data. There are still a lot to be done on the theoretical side, but with the incoming JWST atmospheric characterization data, I hope to really test out whether “super-Earths” are statistically probable in the sub-Neptune populations and their habitability.

Yu research


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