North Carolina Astronomers’ Meeting (NCAM)
Saturday, 24 September 2016
2016 Speaker – Saturday Morning: David Charbonneau, Harvard/CfA,
The Compositions of Small Planets
The NASA Kepler Mission has demonstrated that planets larger than Earth yet smaller then Neptune are commof around Sun-like stars. Although Kepler determined the physical sizes of hundreds of such worlds, we know virtually nothing about their masses and, by inference, their compositions. For four years, we observed a carefully selected subset of these super-Earths withe the HARPS-N instrument, an ultra-stable fiber-fed high-resolution spectrograph built for this very purpose. I report on the constraints on the planetary compositions, and address the transition from terrestrial planets, composed of rock and iron, to Neptune-like worlds, which have accreted an envelope of primordial H/He gas. I will explain the essential role of the NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), scheduled for launch in 2017.
Dr. Charbonneau is a Professor in the Department of Astronomy at Harvard University and an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. His research is in the field of exoplanets, especially in the detection and characterization of these worlds using transit techniques.
Dr. Charbonneau will also give a public lecture at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, 23 Sep 2016, in the auditorium of the Koury Hospitality Careers Building at GTCC.
NCAM is an annual technical meeting that seeks to bring members of the NC professional astronomy community together to network and share research. The meeting usually draws 50+ attendees from institutions around North Carolina and surrounding states. For the past two decades, NCAM has been held annually in late September or early October, and includes a plenary presentation from an invited researcher, short oral sessions scheduled throughout the day, and space for research posters. We especially encourage presentations of student research. The meeting also usually includes two special sessions: the annual business meeting of the NC Section of the International Dark-sky Association, and a Center for Astronomy Education Regional Teaching Exchange.
Planetary Lecture Abstract