The Evolution of Exoplanets Orbiting Low-mass Stars (speaker: Philip Muirhead, Boston University)

Tuesday, December 13, 4:00pm
Marlar Lounge 37-252

Refreshments at 3:45pm, talk begins at 4:00pm

Low-mass stars dominate stellar populations, and recent results from NASA's Kepler Mission suggest rocky planets are abundant around low-mass stars.  With so many planets orbiting low-mass stars, exoplanet scientists can now turn to questions about their history and evolution.  Unfortunately, measuring fundamental properties of low-mass stars is challenging for a variety of reasons.  I will discuss the importance of near-infrared spectroscopy in this effort, presenting results from the TripleSpec spectrograph at Palomar Observatory and a new design for a high-resolution spectrograph on the Discovery Channel Telescope at Lowell Observatory.  With near-infrared spectroscopy, we can measure detailed fundamental properties of low-mass stars, and with new techniques to measure stellar alpha and iron abundances, we can begin to measure the most challenging fundamental property: stellar age.  These efforts are even more exciting in the coming years, when the TESS spacecraft is expected to discover five times as many planets orbiting low-mass stars as Kepler.

Host: Elisabeth Newton