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Astrophysics Luncheon Seminar

Studies of Exozodiacal Dust Using Precision Infrared Interferometry
Presented by Steve Ertel
University of Arizona

Monday, May 14, 2018
12:00 noon in 169-336

Abstract
Exozodiacal dust is warm and hot dust around main sequence stars, near their habitable zone and closer in. Its study can give insight into the architecture and dynamics of the inner regions of planetary systems. On the other hand, the presence of large amounts of dust near the habitable zone of nearby systems may be a major obstacle for future direct imaging missions of habitable exoplanets. Detecting the dust typically requires a high angular resolution in the infrared, currently only achievable using interferometry and a precision only reachable by very few instruments. Over the last six years, the field has advanced significantly due to the publication of several surveys. We have surveyed more than 200 stars now with a detection rate of approximately 20%. Most noteworthy at the moment is our HOSTS (Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial Systems) survey on the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) which has recently achieved mission success. With the LBTI we are pushing toward detecting dust levels only a few times higher than in our Solar system for our most favorable targets. I will review the recent progress in the study of exozodiacal dust, present an update on our HOSTS results, and discuss the most pressing open questions and future prospects in the field.

JPL Contact: Vanessa Bailey (4-2034)

About the Speaker
Steve Ertel is an associate researcher at the University of Arizona. After receiving his PhD at the University of Kiel in 2012, he has held postdoc positions at the University of Grenoble and at ESO. He is interested in studying the formation and evolution of planetary systems with high-angular resolution observational tools and is currently leading the HOSTS exozodi survey.


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