Making the Most of Exoplanet Searches
University of Chicago
Thanks to more than 20 years of dedicated searches for exoplanets, we now know of the existence of thousands of other worlds. The search to detect these planets, especially with large surveys like Kepler, TESS, and soon, WFIRST, has required observations of millions of stars. In the modern "big data" era of astronomy, how can we use these observations to improve our abilities to detect small planets buried in our instrumental noise, and what can we learn from the millions of stars we don't detect planets around? In this seminar, I will discuss recent results from the Kepler and K2 missions and how these missions are enabling us to develop new data analysis techniques to better find and characterize nearby exoplanets. I will also discuss some of the lagniappe science results enabled by these missions which significantly add to their legacies. Specifically, I will discuss efforts to search for long-term brightness variations of stars in the Kepler field caused by stellar magnetic cycles, and describe how the upcoming WFIRST microlensing mission will continue the transiting planet revolution.
Date: Monday, 22 January 2018 Time: 11:00 Where: McGill University Ernest Rutherford Physics Building, R.E. Bell Conference Room (room 103)