Directly Imaging Extrasolar Planets, Thayne Currie

November 29 Speaker Meeting at UTM

8:00 – 10:00 PM

Currie[1]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 instrumentation, observing techniques, and image processing methods used to directly image planets. I will describe in detail several imaged exoplanetary systems which have surprising properties, 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 one such project with which I am involved: the Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme Adaptive Optics (SCExAO) project.

Thayne Currie is currently a McLean Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. His research primarily focuses on imaging and characterizing young extrasolar planets around nearby stars. In the past year, he has played a leading role in identifying and/or confirming the nature of several imaged planet-mass companions, including the newly-announced ROXs 42Bb and the “eye of Sauron” planet Fomalhaut b. He received his PhD in 2008 from UCLA, conducting his thesis research with Scott Kenyon at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. From 2009 to 2012, he was a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow at Goddard Space Flight Center and has been at U of T for the past year. Thayne is originally from rural Kansas and first took an interest in astronomy from observing the night sky on the family farm.

Link to an interview with Thayne Currie and Carol Grady (from Sky and Telescope)

Park in lot 4 or the parkade, across from the fitness centre south of the Davis Building. (Parking rate: $2 per hour.) Enter through the Fitness centre, walk up the stairs until you reach the main corridor then turn right. (If you need an elevator, follow the corridor to the right of the stairs, then go up to the main floor.) Look for the Mississauga Centre sign in front of lecture hall SE2082 in the William Davis Building (AKA the South building).

All of our meetings at UTM are free and open to everyone.

After the meeting, join us at Crabby Joe’s at the South Common Mall for more fun.

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