NSSS: Sébastien Lépine - Real estate within 300 light-years of the Sun: a census of M dwarf stars for exoplanet surveys and Galactic archaeology
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
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.