The Dark Art of Detecting and Characterizing Extrasolar Planets by Direct Imaging

Thayne Curry, Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, U of T

Direct imaging is the new frontier in detecting and characterizing extrasolar planets. In this talk, Currie will discuss the noise sources limiting our ability to image planets and our attempts to overcome them using a novel suite of observing methods like angular differential imaging/roll subtraction and powerful image processing techniques like LOCI. While successful in yielding planet detections, methods like LOCI introduce significant biases that limit our ability to extract reliable planet photometry and astrometry.

Currie will discuss more recent image processing methods – PCA-based processing and A-LOCI – that deliver far better calibrated planet photometry/astrometry and (especially in the latter case) deeper planet detection limits. He will also describe the imposing challenge of correcting biases that emerge from applying these powerful detection techniques to integral field spectrograph data used to infer planet atmospheric chemistry.

Red dwarf star CHXR 73 A and companion object (artist's concept)