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Astronomy Tea Talk

Monday, November 4, 2013
4:15pm to 5:00pm
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Cahill, Hameetman Auditorium
The Outer Architecture of M Dwarf Planetary Systems Revealed Through High-Contrast Imaging
Brendan Bowler, GPS, Caltech,
High-contrast imaging is a powerful tool to probe the outer architecture of planetary systems and directly study the atmospheres of extrasolar giant planets.  Previous imaging surveys have primarily focused on intermediate- and high-mass stars, revealing a handful of giant planets. Yet M dwarfs, which present more favorable planet-contrasts and make up 75% of all stars, have largely been neglected.  As a result, little is 
known about the population of gas-giant planets at moderate separations (10-100 AU) in this stellar mass regime. For the past three years I have led a high-contrast adaptive optics imaging survey targeting newly identified nearby (<35 pc) young (<300 Myr) M dwarfs with Keck II/NIRC2 and Subaru/HiCIAO.  With a sample size of over 120 young M dwarfs, this is the largest direct imaging planet search in this stellar mass regime.  
I will present the discoveries and statistical results from this survey and discuss their implications for the formation of gas-giant planets around the most common stars in our galaxy.
For more information, please contact Luca Ricci and Dan Perley by phone at 626-395-2460 and 626-395-3734 or by email at lricci@astro.caltech.edu and dperley@astro.caltech.edu.