Michelle is a PhD student currently enrolled in the Earth and planetary sciences program at the University of California, Riverside. She focuses on detection and characterization of exoplanets and exomoons in the habitable zone of their stars, with particular interest in lower than Earth mass exoplanet habitability. She is currently building a model to investigate the lower planet size limit of planetary habitability.
Michelle also detects and refines the masses and orbits of exoplanets using the radial velocity (RV) method. She is currently following many known planet systems that have shown indications of additional planets in orbit in order to detect the long period outer companions. She is also a member of the TESS-Keck Survey (TKS) team that conducts RV followup of TESS Objects of Interest.
Michelle completed her post bachelor honours in astrophysics at USQ, Australia during which she completed a study that identified 72 known giant planets in the habitable zones of their stars that have the potential to host large terrestrial exomoons. As these moons would also be in the habitable zone of their star, they have the potential to be life holding worlds. As part of Michelle's PhD, she is conducting follow up observations of some of these giant planets that have shown indications of other planets in orbit.
Prior to this Michelle completed her bachelors in applied physics and astrophysics at University of New England and San Francisco State University. Here Michelle worked on the occurrence rates of giant exoplanets in the habitable zone of their star and found that while giant planets are less likely to be found in the habitable zone than terrestrial planets, if each giant planet is host to more than one moon then exomoons could be more numerous than terrestrial planets in the habitable zone of their star.
Michelle is also a commercial pilot and currently holds an Australian ATPL with plans to convert this to an FAA APT.
Michelle Hill - Planet Huntress