Unleashing the full potential of direct imaging of exoplanetary systems
Within 2 decades, our classical view of planetary systems and of their formation mechanisms have been revolutionized by the observation of thousands of exoplanets. We now know that most stars host planets, that these planets are surprisingly diverse and often different from our Solar system's, and that they probably form through a range of complex mechanisms. All these findings were obtained by looking within the first inner AUs only of exoplanetary systems, with indirect observing methods. How do planetary systems look like beyond 5 AU? How common are planets there, what are their physical properties, how do they interact with the outer disks of dust and planetesimals? Direct imaging can answer these questions by offering complete views of the outer regions of extrasolar systems, and by measuring direct spectra of planets. In the visible and near-infrared, the compelling regimes for studying planet atmospheres and dust properties, this observing method faces technical challenges that limit detections to the brightest objects. Here I will present recent works that improve the detection limits of direct imaging instruments, and how they lead to discoveries of fainter objects. I will present my contribution to these developments and analyses, and I will discuss pathways toward detections of exo-Earths with future space telescopes.
Date: Friday, 26 January 2018 Time: 11:00 Where: McGill University Ernest Rutherford Physics Building, R.E. Bell Conference Room (room 103)