Colloquium: Olivier Guyon

    Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm
    Meinel 307

    The Search for Life around Nearby Stars: from Remote Sensing to Interstellar Travel


    A significant fraction of stars are now believed to host rocky planets in their habitable zone, offering excellent opportunities for life to appear. The nearest star to our solar system (Proxima Cen) does have such a planet, and our immediate stellar neighborhood probably hosts about a dozen potentially habitable planets.Detailed characterization of these nearby planets will soon be possible through high contrast imaging and spectrocopy (measuring atmospheric composition), radial velocity and astrometry (masses, orbits). These techniques are rapidly advancing, and will be deployed on large ground-based telescopes as well as space telescopes.In a more distant future, probes could be sent to the nearest habitable planets for detailed high resolution imaging. This challenging goal will be explored by the Starshot initative led by the Breakthrough foundation. The current concept relies on a high power Earth-based laser to accelerate a lightweight sail to achieve the required acceleration.

    Speaker Bio(s): 

    Olivier Guyon (University of Arizona & Subaru Telescope) is an expert in exoplanet imaging techniques (coronagraphy, adaptive optics). He leads the Subaru Coronagraphic Extreme-AO (SCExAO) instrument and designs coronagraph systems for future space-based exoplanet imaging missions. He received the US Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the MacArthur fellowship for his innovative contributions to astronomical optics. He is also an avid amateur astronomer and citizen science enthusiast, and founded PANOPTES (Panoptic Astronomical Networked OPtical observatory for Transiting Exoplanet Survey), a citizen science project aimed at building low cost robotic telescopes that can be used to detect transiting exoplanets.