24 October 2013
24 October 2013
Speaker: Katie Morzinski (Arizona)
Title:Direct Imaging of Exoplanets: Remote Sensing of Planetary Systems and Processes
Extrasolar worlds present the opportunity to discover more about our own origins. The emergent spectrum from a planet encodes chemistry, energy transport, thermal evolution, and more. Only a few observing techniques enable spectroscopy and photometry of exoplanets themselves. Transit and radial velocity observations as a function of orbital phase have enabled us to study the atmospheres of close-in planets. Direct imaging, on the other hand, probes planets at wider separations, and is critical for characterizing the atmospheres of less-insolated exoplanets. Beta Pictoris is one of the first extrasolar systems discovered to host large bodies analogous to those in our own solar system, viz. in-falling comets. Moreover, a long-suspected planet has been confirmed at sub-arcsecond separation via high-contrast imaging. We observed Beta Pic b at first-light of the new Magellan adaptive optics instrument "MagAO" in December 2012, simultaneously with our visible-light and infrared cameras. I will present my MagAO imaging data of Beta Pic b at 5 passbands, providing a fuller picture of the planet's spectral energy distribution. This broad wavelength coverage will be crucial to determining the energy balance of new exoplanets as improved AO technology allows direct imaging to probe closer separations and lower masses. MagAO is unique in achieving diffraction-limited imaging from 0.6-5 microns, and will be vital to characterizing these planetary systems.