Blazing A Trail: Towards Imaging Super-Earths From The Ground And Space

Professor Michael R. Meyer (host Krawczynski), University of Michigan
August 31, 2018 at 2:15 pm
241 Compton
Event Description 

The discovery and characterization of extrasolar planets has been data-driven: clearly there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies. As the demographics of the myriad diverse systems becomes known, we begin to piece together the larger story of their formation and evolution. Ultimately, we seek to understand the prospects for life elsewhere in the Universe. In addition to this scientific quest, exploration also plays a role. In particular, the nearest star systems provide an opportunity to explore in detail strange new worlds. The announcement of a planet < 10 Mearth in the liquid-water zone of Proxima Centari sent shock waves through the community. What is the nature of this planetary system found in our own galactic backyard? Could it be habitable? Here we will review plans to try to image small planets from the ground in thermal emission around Cen A supported by the Breakthrough Watch initiative, including development of a new generation of mid-infrared detectors with high quantum efficiency, low noise, and suitable for ground-based use, as well as plans for the next generation extremely large telescopes (25-39 meters diameter). We will also discuss the power of imaging planets both in reflected light and thermal emission, and the possibility of detecting the greenhouse effect in a world outside the Solar System.

Coffee: 2:00 pm, 241 Compton