College of Science

Seminar: Joseph Carson [College of Charleston]

Direct Imaging of Extrasolar Planets and Spectroscopic Monitoring of Young Stars, to Better Understand the Origins, Evolution, and Final Properties of Extrasolar Planet Systems

Feb 20, 2018 11:00 AM to Feb 20, 2018 12:00 PM at Building 8, Room 241

I summarize my group's parallel efforts to better understand the birth, evolution, and characteristics of extrasolar planet populations. To explore individual planet systems, I and my students use space-based and ground-based data to carry out direct-imaging explorations of planet systems at unprecedented sensitivity depths. I show a recent detection by my group, made from Hubble infrared data, of a candidate secondary planet around a system with a previously discovered inner planet. If confirmed by follow-up observations, our discovered exoplanet would likely be the smallest to ever be directly imaged. I also describe a new spectroscopic survey I recently co-initiated with collaborators, to monitor episodic stellar activity among young stars, in order to better understand how such activity impacts planet formation and evolution, including significant implications for planet habitability. While founded on observational data, the aforementioned explorations are enabled by strong computational efforts: image combination algorithms drive our effective sensitivities to faint exoplanets while planet formation/evolution simulations allow us to connect stellar activity indicators with the astrophysical processes of planet formation. In closing, I also briefly describe my group's success applying imaging strategies from observational astronomy to 3D medical imaging, to offer breakthroughs for the screening of terminal cancers in severely underserved regions of the world. 

10:50 am Refreshments

11:00 am Seminar

Building 8, Room 241