NSSS: Sébastien Lépine - Real estate within 300 light-years of the Sun: a census of M dwarf stars for exoplanet surveys and Galactic archaeology

The Natural Science Seminar Series at York College presents Sébastien Lépine from the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.
When Nov 03, 2011
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where AC 4M05
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The Natural Science Seminar Series at York College presents Sébastien Lépine from the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.

Real estate within 300 light-years of the Sun: a census of M dwarf stars for exoplanet surveys and Galactic archaeology.

M dwarfs are the staple stars of the Galaxy. By far the dominant type of hydrogen-burning body, they also have a knack for "hiding in plain sight" due to their relatively low luminosities. As a result, the census of M dwarfs has traditionally been very incomplete, even in the neighborhood of the Sun. I will present results from my SUPERBLINK survey, which is now identifying over 90% of all M dwarfs within 300 light-years of the Sun -- some 300,000 stars all barely explored. This new census opens up huge "real estate" opportunities in the search for exoplanets. I will explain why M dwarfs make such attractive targets for current exoplanet surveys, particularly in the search for Earth-mass objects within a "habitable" zone. In addition, M dwarfs live such long lives, that they hardly change at all over cosmological timescales (>10 billion years). I will explain how M dwarfs can be used "stellar fossils" to explore the formation history and evolution of our Galaxy.

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