Circumstellar matter around main sequence and pre-main sequence stars, exosolar planets, trans-Neptunian objects, stellar and planetary dynamics, optical and near-infrared coronagraphy, high contrast imaging with adaptive optics and the Hubble Space Telescope, mid-infrared and sub-millimeter imaging.
Dr. Kalas images planetary systems around other stars using the Hubble Space Telescope, Keck Observatory, and other major astronomical observatories. His research led to the discovery of Fomalhaut b, the first extrasolar planet seen in optical light orbiting another star. Other accomplishments include the discoveries of dusty asteroid and comet belts surrounding a half dozen nearby stars. He is a science team member on several major projects, such as the Gemini Planet Imager, which is the next pioneering step in imaging planetary systems.
Dr. Kalas was born in New York and raised near Detroit, Michigan. He studied Astronomy and Physics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and earned a Ph.D with astronomer David Jewitt at the University of Hawaii. Before coming to Berkeley, he worked as a postdoctoral scientist with Steven Beckwith at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. In 2009 he received the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize for the most outstanding paper published in the journal Science. Dr. Kalas is Chair of Graduate Admissions for the Berkeley Astronomy Department, founded the Spirit of Lyot conference series, and developed an innovative astronomy graduate course on science ethics.
NExSS is a cross-divisional initiative from NASA to create a research coordination network (RCN) with an emphasis on studying extrasolar planets and the potential for habitability. An RCN is a virtual structure to support groups of investigators to communication and coordinate research and educational activity. At Berkeley our contributions are the observations of extrasolar planets via direct imaging, the transit technique, and Doppler spectroscopy, plus the theoretical study of planet formation and subsequent evolution.
The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a new science instrument that exploits the latest generation of adaptive optics technology, coronagraphy and detectors. We have successfully commissioned GPI at the Gemini South telescope in Chile and in 2014 we started a three year science program called GPIES (GPI Exoplanet Survey) that will survey 600 stars for the presence of young giant planets.