19 May 2011
19 May 2011
Speaker: Michael Liu (IfA/Hawaii)
Title:Studying Young Gas-Giant Planets Directly
Abstract:Direct detection is rapidly becoming a key method to study gas-giant
extrasolar planets. Direct photometry, spectroscopy, and astrometry of
planets around young stars are now possible using the largest
ground-based telescopes equipped with adaptive optics. Akin to the early
growth of radial velocity and transit studies, direct measurements of
the first discoveries have revealed a surprising diversity in the
exoplanet population. We discuss how these initial results have
challenged our conceptions of gas-giant planet formation and properties.
To move forward from these exciting individual discoveries to
well-defined statistical samples, we are currently carrying out a 3-year
observing campaign using the Near-Infrared Coronagraphic Imager (NICI)
on the Gemini-South Telescope. NICI typically achieves about 1-2
magnitudes better contrast compared to previous planet-finding efforts.
We describe the Campaign's goals, design, performance, and results. The
NICI Planet-Finding Campaign represents the largest and most sensitive
imaging survey to date for massive (1 Mjup) planets around other stars.