16 May 2017, Tuesday, 7:45 PM, Presidio Officers’ Club
“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star: How the Kepler Space Telescope is Revealing the Birthplaces of Planets”
Anne Marie Cody, PhD, NASA Ames, SETI Institute
Thanks to numerous ground and space-based surveys, we are now aware of over 3300 planets orbiting other stars, with another nearly 2500 candidates from the Kepler Mission awaiting confirmation. The Universe is teeming with rocky and gaseous bodies. How did these planet systems form and evolve toward their present configurations? The answer to this question lies in the study of young planets and their formation environments. In this talk I will show how high- precision time series data from space telescopes is beginning to illuminate the conditions surrounding planet formation and the star-disk connection.
Progress is being made on two fronts. First, high cadence photometry of accreting young stars is revealing the structure of inner circumstellar disks on spatial scales inaccessible to direct imaging. In some cases, we are able to observe occultations by coherent dust clumps which may be the precursors to planetesimals. Second, the onset of the K2 mission is enabling an unprecedented search for exoplanets at ages of a few to 100 million years.
Dr.Cody will present a selection of exquisite photometric time series from several recent campaigns, highlighting the case of K2-33b, a recently discovered transiting planet around a newborn star in the Upper Scorpius region.
Ann Marie Cody works with the Kepler Space Telescope team on the K2 Mission, developing software to produce ultra-high precision measurements to search for exoplanets and the study of their origin.