19 April 2016, Tuesday, 7:45 PM, Presidio Officers Club
“The New Era of Exoplanet Discovery”
Mark Marley,PhD NASA Ames
Although science fiction has long dreamed of their existence, it has only been 20 years since the announcement of the first confirmed extrasolar planets. We now know of thousands of worlds beyond our own solar system. Almost all of these planets were discovered by indirect means, mostly by searches for the subtle effects of these distant planets on their own suns. While astronomers have developed astounding methods for teasing out details about many of these planets, the vast majority will forever remain as little more than curves and dips on data plots. However as we enter the third decade of exoplanet science a new method of discovery is coming to the forefront: direct imaging. This method aims to block the light of stars so that the planets that orbit them can be directly detected. Directly imaged planets are not only somehow more satisfying, they also offer many more opportunities for in depth study since their light is naturally separated from that of their star. In my talk I will explain how direct imaging is already helping us to understand the origin and evolution of giant planets around young stars and I will discuss the promise this method holds in the search for life on Earth-like planets in the future.
Dr. Mark Marley is a Research Scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View. His research background includes studies on both solar system and extrasolar giant planets. He has served on multiple NASA teams helping to define the future of extrasolar planet discovery and characterization and is a member of the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey team, which recently announced the discovery of its first directly imaged planet. Dr. Marley has been awarded the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and has published 150 scientific papers. As a Consulting Professor he teaches courses on solar system and extrasolar planets at Stanford University.
PLEASE NOTE: Although we normally hold our general lecture at the Presidio Observation Post, due to a scheduling conflict the April lecture will be held at the Presidio Officers Club.