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Wednesday, February 10, 2016
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Cahill, Hameetman Auditorium

Astronomy Colloquium

Orbits and Atmospheres of Directly Imaged Exoplanets
Quinn Konopacky, UC San Diego,

Directly imaged exoplanets offer a new window into the rapidly evolving field of planet formation and evolution. The ability to separate the light of widely separated planets (~5 - 100 AU) from their host stars is extremely advantageous for studying Jovian planets. The combination of dynamical and atmospheric characterization can give essential clues about how these planetary systems form. To demonstrate this new insight, I will present results from an ongoing monitoring campaign of the HR 8799 directly imaged multi-planet system using Keck Observatory adaptive optics system. High precision astrometry has provided constraints on the orbital properties of the four HR8799 planets. Moderate resolution (R~4000) spectroscopy has given precise estimates of the planets' effective temperature, surface gravity, and chemical composition. By analyzing the implied atmospheric chemisty, we have found tantalizing clues about the possible formation pathway for this planetary system.  The next wave of direct imaging discovery has now begun with the successful commissioning of new instruments such as the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI).  I will highlight initial results from the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey (GPIES), which has now completed one year of its three year campaign.

For more information, please contact Althea E. Keith by phone at 626-395-4973 or by email at