Extrasolar Planetary Systems
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
More than 300 extrasolar planets are now known. Almost all have been detected indirectly—through radial velocity measurements or eclipses of their parent star. Direct detection—spatially resolving the planet from the star—opens up new areas of exoplanet phase space and new avenues for planet characterization. Macintosh will discuss the challenges in detecting such faint signals—a mature Jupiter-like planet is a billion times fainter than its parent star—and approaches to overcoming them. The promise of this approach was recently demonstrated with images of a planet orbiting Fomalhaut (Kalas et al 2008) and a three-planet system orbiting the young A star HR8799 (Marois et al 2008). Macintosh will discuss the latter in detail, and will summarize future prospects in this field, including advanced ground-based instrumentation and the path towards detection and characterization of Earthlike planets.
Bruce Macintosh completed his PhD at UCLA in 1994. He is currently a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, working in astronomical adaptive optics, and an associate director for the National Science Foundation Center for Adaptive Optics. He is principal investigator for the Gemini Planet Imager, a next-generation instrument for the 8 meter Gemini South telescope designed to directly detect and spectroscopically characterize Jovian planets orbiting nearby stars.