Thu, October 05, 2017
Imaging Planets Around Other Stars
Over the last 25 years, our view of planet formation and, by extension, of our place in the Universe, has changed in the most dramatic fashion. In the mid 1990s, we did not know for sure whether planets existed outside of our Solar System. Today, a variety of observational techniques have established that planetary systems are extremely common in the Milky Way. Of all the methods that astronomers use to study planets, arguably the most powerful consists in “simply" taking images of planets around their parent star, as this allows for direct analyses of their properties. Unfortunately, this is an incredibly challenging task, one that we have only been able to accomplish through a number of technological breakthroughs over the years. In this talk, I will explain the amplitude of that challenge, the methods we use to reach that goal, the successes that we have achieved in the last few years, and the short- and long-term prospects for obtaining yet better images in the future.
Gaspard Duchene’s main research interests include the multiplicity of stars and the structure, properties and evolution of planet-forming disks surrounding most stars during their youth. Most of his research relies on obtaining the sharpest possible images of nearby young stars from the largest telescopes in the world. He obtained his undergraduate degree and PhD in Grenoble (France), after which he spent four years at UCLA as a postdoctoral researcher and adjunct professor. He then returned to Grenoble as a researcher for three years before joining the research staff at UC Berkeley ten years ago, where he is a member of the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey.