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05/02/19: SO/NOAO Joint Colloquium Series: Steph Sallum, UC Santa Cruz


Title: Imaging Protoplanets with Adaptive Optics and Interferometry

Observations of mature planetary systems and protoplanetary disks have informed our understanding of planet formation, placing general constraints on its timescale and conditions. Despite a wealth of data, many open questions remain regarding how planets accrete and interact with their natal environments. Addressing these questions requires direct observations of forming planets themselves. Compared to mature planets, protoplanets are expected to have low infrared contrasts relative to their host stars. However, nearby star forming regions lie at much greater distances than typical directly-imaged planets. Protoplanets on orbits of several AU will be at or within the infrared diffraction limit of 8-meter class telescopes, necessitating novel imaging methods for direct detection and characterization. Interferometric techniques such as non-redundant masking (NRM), which turns a conventional telescope into an interferometric array, are well suited for protoplanet imaging. I will present the results of NRM protoplanet searches in transition disks - protoplanetary disks with inner clearings that may be shaped by forming planets. I will also describe the related kernel phase technique, which will enable simultaneous detection and characterization when applied on integral field spectrographs. Lastly, I will discuss prospects for direct protoplanet observations on the next generation of space- and ground-based facilities.

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