Imaging Newborn Exoplanets with the James Webb Space Telescope

Dr Benjamin Pope, the University of Queensland

Date: Monday 5th September

Time: 6:30pm (please join at 6:20pm)

Via: Zoom link - look for your email and if you are now a member please email sydneycityskywatchers@gmail.com


Solar systems like our own form within vast disks of gas and dust around newborn stars. The process of planetary growth cannot be understood only from study of mature systems - to find out more, we need to observe the detailed in-situ physics of planet-forming disks themselves. To answer this question, our team built the only Australian-designed instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope: the Aperture Masking Interferometer.


In this talk, I will explain how it works to deliver the sharpest-ever infrared images in astronomy, and talk about the fascinating physics we hope it will reveal about planetary assembly, rings and gaps carved in disks, and the leftover cometary debris.



Bio: I research extrasolar planets - planets around other stars - and focus on developing and applying new data science approaches for detecting and characterizing them. Currently, I'm working on a survey of naked-eye stars in Kepler, K2, and TESS, to search for transiting planets; I'm also interested in exoplanet direct imaging, as well as using radio astronomy to study planets' magnetic interactions with their host stars. After undergraduate and Masters degrees at the University of Sydney, I completed my doctorate in 2017 at Oxford, and from 2017-20 was a NASA Sagan Fellow at New York University. I'm now a Lecturer in Astrophysics and DECRA Fellow at the University of Queensland.


The evening includes the monthly solar report and other short members reports and discussion.