CfA OIR Division Lunch Talks


Thursday, March 6, 2008, 12:30 pm, Pratt Conference Room


My GMT: Observing the Origins of Stars,
Planets, and Life with 2020 Vision

Dr. Michael Meyer (Steward Observatory)

Is the initial mass function of stars and sub-stellar objects universal regardless of the initial conditions of star formation? How common are planetary systems like our own among the sun-like stars of the Milky Way? Does complex organic chemistry arise naturally on the surfaces of potentially habitable planets? Obtaining answers to these fundamental questions will require a range of observational capabilities. Fortunately in the year 2020, astronomers will enjoy access to a stunning array of facilities, including ALMA, JWST, and the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). We will describe the unique attributes of the GMT that make it especially well-suited to enable progress including its fine spatial resolution, great sensitivity, and large field of view. We will focus on the potential of the GMT to resolve young stellar populations in nearby galaxies as well as image terrestrial planets around the very (VERY) nearest stars. We will summarize the instrumentation necessary to make these feats possible.

GMT