Date of Award

Spring 2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Physics & Astronomy

First Advisor

Charles R. Alcock

Second Advisor

Pavlos Protopapas

Third Advisor

Matthew Lehner

Abstract

The characteristics of the populations of objects that inhabit the outer solar system carry the fingerprint of the processes that governed the formation and evolution of the solar system. Occultation surveys push the limit of observation into the very small and distant outer solar system objects, allowing us to set constraints on the structure of the Kuiper belt, Scattered disk and Sedna populations. I collected, reduced, and analyzed vast datasets looking for occultations of stars by outer solar system objects, both working with the Taiwanese American Occultation Survey (TAOS) collaboration and leading the MMT/Megacam occultation effort. Having found no such events in my data, I was able to place upper limits on the Kuiper belt, scattered disk and Sedna population. These limits and their derivation are described here.

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