My name is Fei Dai (戴飞). I'm a Postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at Caltech. I obtained my PhD in physics from MIT under the supervision of Prof. Josh Winn .

The discovery and characterization of new, exciting planetary systems with Kepler and K2 and the newly inaugurated TESS mission is the focus of my research. Using both novel data analysis techniques and numerical simulations, I want to understand the composition, orbital architecture and atmospheric loss of planets which in turn tell us about their formation, evolution and habitability. In order to figure out how extreme can planet formation be at the hottest end, I study the planets with shortest possible orbital period (hours to days). These "hot Earths" present an opportunity to look at processes such as tides, photoevaporation, star-planet interaction that govern planet formation and evolution in general but may be too slow/weak to be observable for longer period planets.

Picture on the right was taken in Jan 2017 at Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.

Research Highlights

  • K2, the second phase of NASA Kepler mission, enabled us to discover many exciting planetary systems along the ecliptic.

  • Our recent works studied the composition and orbital configuration of hot Earths which orbit their host stars with periods as short as a few hours.

  • Starspots leave photometric signatures in planetary transit light curves which can unveal the stellar obliquity and magnetic acvity of the host stars.

  • We extended the study of planet radius distribution (Fulton et al 2018) from Sun-like stars to M-dwarf planets. Results suggests that photoevaporation rather than core-powered mass loss is the main driver for the observed radius gap.

  • We studied the process of photoevaporation (proposed to be responsible for the planet radius gap, see left) with hydrodynamic simulations and self-consistent heating and cooling.

  • A pair of young stars that likely underwent close encounters, a scenario that may explain the observed optical dimming, the tidal arms seen in the millimeter and a strong Fe emisson in X-ray.


  • 38 All Publications
  • 9 First-Authored
  • 677 Citations
  • 17 h-index
  • 25 i10-index

More up-to-date publication lists can be found here:

Brief Bio

I was a graduate student at MIT Department of Physics from 2014 to 2019. I was also a visiting student at Princeton Univerity (2017-2019). Previously, I received B.A. in Natural Science and M.Sci in Physics from University of Cambridge in 2014 with First Class Honours.