Revealing Planet Formation through High-Contrast Imaging of Exoplanets and Circumstellar Debris

The past two decades have seen major advances in our understanding of the formation of planetary systems beyond our own.  To date, the techniques that have detected the vast majority of planets around other stars are most sensitive to planets close to their host stars, generally within the “ice line” at which volatiles condense.  Our ability to directly probe the outer regions of planetary systems is also rapidly advancing, and now a new generation of astronomical instruments dedicated to imaging at high-contrast is beginning operations on sky.  These instruments will enable detection and spectral characterization of young jovian planets at orbital distances that complement other techniques.  They can also help put these in the context of planet formation processes through imaging of related disks of circumstellar debris.  In this talk I will discuss some of our findings using high-contrast imaging, including the nascent Gemini Planet Imager.  I will describe our work characterizing the young jovian planet beta Pictoris b.  I will also describe our imaging and analysis of dynamically perturbed circumstellar debris disks.  Finally, I will discuss the aims and design of our upcoming survey of young nearby stars to characterize their planetary systems.

Cody Hall

Michael Fitzgerald (UCLA)

November 14, 2014
14:00 - 15:00