Imaging and remote sensing of other worlds (video)
Dimitri Mawet, Associate Professor of Astronomy, Caltech
Thousands of exoplanets have been discovered over the past 20 years. We learned that our solar system is just one example among a mind-boggling variety of architectures. The majority of these planetary systems have been detected by indirect techniques, looking for instance at tiny variations in their host star's motion and/or brightness. These methods have ushered in an entirely new field called comparative exoplanetology, putting the solar system and its planets into a universal perspective. In this talk, I will focus on high contrast imaging and spectroscopy, using a slew of state-of-the-art facilities including current large and future extremely large ground-based telescopes as well as dedicated space-based platforms currently in the works. Beyond taking striking pictures, high contrast imaging, when combined with spectroscopy is the only technique that promises to yield the most detailed measurements of distant worlds, revealing amazing details about their composition and diversity.