Imaging Extrasolar Planets
In 2008 the first giant planets were imaged around another star. This milestone ushered in a new era of astronomy in which exoplanet atmospheres could be routinely studied, revealing their chemical composition, physical properties, and formation pathways. Over the past few years over a dozen giant planets have been imaged and spectroscopically characterized, revealing a diversity of orbital architectures and atmospheric conditions that was unimagined only a decade ago. I will provide an overview of the field, emphasizing recent discoveries, ongoing surveys in search of new planets, and emerging statistical trends. In the near future the James Webb Space Telescope and several 30-meter class telescopes on the ground will push the detection limits down to ice giants like Neptune on solar system scales, paving the way for the ultimate goal of imaging and characterizing earth-like planets in the habitable zone.
Dr. Brendan Bowler is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology. In 2013 he obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Hawaii, in which he carried out the largest direct imaging search for planets around low-mass stars. His research focuses on the formation, atmospheres, and statistical properties of exoplanets primarily using adaptive optics systems on 8-10 meter class telescopes. Brendan studied physics and astronomy at Tufts University and received his B.A. there in 2007.
"What's Up?" in this month will be presented by Chris Butler