Comparative Exoplanetary Science Through Direct Imaging
California Institute of Technology
Most of the hundreds of exoplanets identified in the past 15 years have been detected indirectly---by monitoring the planets' effect on their host star's light. By overcoming the extremely large brightness contrast between the stars and their faint exoplanetary companions, astronomers are now able to actually image wide-separation exoplanets from large ground-based observatories like the W. M. Keck Observatory. This is allowing us to study these objects in detail, launching the field of comparative exoplanetary science. I will describe several of the techniques and results associated with this extremely challenging task of "high-contrast imaging." I will further describe some of our efforts at Caltech, including "Project 1640", a high contrast imaging program based at the Palomar 5-meter Hale Telescope. I will also touch on several other exoplanet-related projects based at Keck: each uses the technique of aperture masking interferometry aimed at very young stars in star-forming regions which is providing snapshots of the very early epochs of planet formation and evolution.
Date: Thursday, 1 December 2011 Time: 11:30 Where: Université de Montréal Pavillon Roger-Gaudry, local D-460 Contact: René Doyon