Dr. Apai's research focuses on the formation and properties of exoplanetary systems, through direct observations of protoplanetary and debris disks and giant exoplanets. He is particularly interested in the formation of habitable planets and the characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres, including the search for biomarkers.
Dr. Apai's group studies exoplanets via high-contrast imaging and by observing exoplanetary transits and eclipses. High-contrast imaging allows the exploration of the exoplanet population in the outer planetary systems, leading to the discovery and characterization of giant planets and constraints on their frequency. Planetary eclipses, on the other hand, enable the study of heavily irradiated exoplanets with atmospheres as hot as red dwarf stars.
Studies of planetary atmospheres provide only limited information on the bulk composition and geophysics of planets: detailed understanding of the physics of exoplanets also requires an understanding of their formation. Dr. Apai has worked on establishing a consistent framework for planet formation in the Solar System and around other stars by reconciling the meteoritic and Solar System evidence with astronomical observations. He also carried out detailed studies that demonstrated that the initial and boundary conditions of planet formation are stellar mass-dependent, arguing for different disk evolution around the much more common low-mass stars.
Professional Affiliations and Awards:
American Astronomical Society
International Astronomical Union
American Association for the Advancement of Science