RSAA Colloquia / Seminars / Feast-of-Facts: Thursday, 22 October 2015, 11:00-12:00; Duffield Lecture Theatre

Ann Marie Cody

"The Youngest Planets and their Host Stars"

Thanks to numerous ground and space-based surveys, we are now aware of over 1800 planets orbiting other stars, with another nearly 5000 candidates from the Kepler Mission awaiting confirmation. The Universe is teeming with rocky and gaseous bodies. How did these planet systems form and evolve toward their present configurations? The answer to this question lies in the study of young planets and their formation environments. In this talk I will show how high-precision time series data from space telescopes is beginning to illuminate the conditions surrounding planet formation and the star-disk connection. Progress is being made on two fronts. First, high cadence photometry of accreting young stars is revealing the structure of the inner circumstellar disk on spatial scales inaccessible to direct imaging. Second, the onset of the K2 mission is enabling an unprecedented search for exoplanets at ages of a few to 100 Myr. I will present a selection of exquisite photometric time series from several recent campaigns, highlighting the diversity of variability seen in young stars with protoplanetary disks. In some cases, we observe occultations by coherent dust clumps which may be the precursors to planetesimals. I will discuss the prospects for detecting transits of newly formed planets around young stars, as well as upcoming space missions.