Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Queen's University
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Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy
Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Detecting and Characterizing Planets by Direct Imaging

Thayne Currie
University of Toronto

Monday, January 21, 2013
12:30 PM @ Stirling 201

Abstract:

Direct imaging is the new frontier in exoplanet detection and the means by which we will eventually discover a true Earth twin around a Sun-like star. In this talk, I introduce the new observing techniques/powerful image processing methods used to directly image planets as well as some of the surprising properties of the first directly imaged planetary systems (e.g. HR 8799 and Fomalhaut) in particular their atmospheres/sources of emission. The next 5-10 years will see an explosion of new discoveries in this field due to the commissioning of ground-based extreme adaptive optics imagers capable of revealing young Jupiter/Saturn planets and (perhaps) molten super-Earths almost ten million times fainter than the host stars at small angular separations. I will close by discussing the first (working) extreme-AO system -- the Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics (SCExAO) imager with which I?m involved --presenting engineering test results demonstrating SCExAO?s performance and describing the synergy between exoplanet studies with SCExAO and those carried out with transit studies.