Colloquium: Eduardo Bendek

    Thursday, September 15, 2016 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm
    Meinel 307

    New Prospects for the Exploration of Alpha Centauri System: Science and Technology Overview


    The recent discovery of an earth-like planet in the Habitable Zone of Proxima Centauri has brought the world’s attention to our closest star system: Alpha Centauri, which consists of two sun-like binary stars at a distance of 4.37 light years, and a red dwarf called Proxima Centauri at 4.24 light years. Proxima is likely to be gravitationally bounded to aCen A&B, however, its orbit is only marginally constrained. The system has been observed for many years with different exoplanet detection techniques, but definitive results have been elusive. This talk will give an overview of the Alpha Centauri system as well as the different exoplanet detection techniques that can be used to constrain the presence of planets. The discussion will have a strong emphasis on the optical technologies and sensitivities required to explore the system, and will give an overview of the most advanced space and ground-based telescopes that can observe this object.

    Speaker Bio(s): 

    Dr. Bendek holds a BS and a MS in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in astrophysics, and a PhD in Optical Sciences from The University of Arizona as a Fulbright Scholar. His dissertation work resulted in the world’s first demonstration of Multi-Laser Ground Layer Adaptive Optics system. He has more than 12 years of experience in diverse observatories and agencies including ESO's Very Large Telescope, the MMT 6.5m observatory in Arizona, and NASA. Since 2012 Dr. Bendek has been working at NASA Ames developing technologies for exoplanet direct imaging and characterization. He serves as Instrument lead of the ACESAT mission dedicated to directly image planets in the Habitable Zone of Alpha Centauri A&B. This year he received the NASA’s Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal for his contributions to the field.

    He started the Fulbright Coach a Teacher program, is co-founder of Yx Wireless, and serves as a Councilor of the Chile California Council.