CfA Colloquium Schedule Fall 2010
 30 September 2010

30 September 2010

Speaker: David Bennett (Notre Dame)

Title:The Coolest Exoplanets in the Galaxy via Gravitational Microlensing

Abstract:The vast majority known exoplanets have been found by the radial velocity or transit methods that are strongly biased toward the detection of hot, short period planets that are unlike the planets in our own solar system. In contrast, the gravitational microlensing method is most sensitive to planets beyond the snow line, where theory suggests that the most massive planets should form. Statistical analyses of the relatively small number of exoplanets discovered by microlensing to date indicate that the cold Saturns and Neptunes found by microlensing are more common than any other type of exoplanet found to date. The exoplanet parameter space probed by microlensing will be dramatically increased by the planet search program of the new WFIRST mission, which was the top rated large space program in the recently released "Astro2010: New Worlds, New Horizons" decadal survey report. This program, when combined with Kepler will provide a complete statistical census of the planets that populate our Galaxy.

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