Professor Deane Peterson
Department of Physics and Astronomy
7:30 pm Room 001 ESS Building
Friday, April 3, 2009

Finding Planets Around Bright Stars

Planets a million or more times fainter than their parent stars are hard to see against the glare of these stars. We have developed effective ways of detecting their presence and even measuring some of their properties. For the first time ever, astronomers recently imaged Jupiter-sized planets orbiting nearby stars. Prof. Sivaramakrishnan will explain how we detect faint objects near bright stars, using a variety of techniques: planetary transits, gravitiational lensing, adaptive optics, and newly-developed interferometric methods planned for NASA's flagship mission, the James Webb Space Telescope, due to launch mid-decade.

Prof. Sivaramakrishnan has been an adjunct professor at Stony Brook since he moved to New York in 2005. He has built instruments for Palomar and other observatories, and has worked on Hubble instruments and the planned James Webb Space Telescope. He is engaged in enabling the direct imaging of planets, protoplanets, disks, and brown dwarfs outside our Solar System. Prof. Sivaramakrishnan lives with his family in Huntington.