Members of the FEPS research team were part of at least 10 proposals submitted on November 24 (before 8 pm EST) for the JWST Cycle 1 proposal deadline. It was a very busy week for some members of our team. Proposals for observations of planet-forming circumstellar disks, brown dwarfs, and to detect and characterize planets around other stars were written, commented upon, revised, and commented upon again. Of course designing the observations was part of the effort. It made some of us realize just how powerful JWST will be and explore more deeply what it can do. Congratulations to members of the FEPS team and good luck on having your proposals accepted!
A new review on exoplanet demographics, written by Scott Gaudi, Jessie Christiansen, and Michael Meyer was posted this on astro-ph this week to coincide with the Exoplanets Demographics conference held at the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (see previous post). Shown here is one of the figures from the paper summarizing recent results. The main focus of the article is to list key questions and future prospects for progress: there is a lot of exciting work to do in the coming years!
The Department of Astronomy at the University of Michigan welcomes applications post-doctoral positions to join the Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems research group. Applications are especially welcome in the areas of high contrast imaging, exoplanet detection and spectral characterization, infrared instrumentation, as well as exoplanet population statistics, and planet formation. Contact Michael Meyer for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline to apply is January 4, 2021. More information can be found here: https://jobregister.aas.org/ad/50f1c814
Dani Atkinson gave an invited talk describing efforts to characterize the new Geosnap detectors at UM and Michael Meyer summarized plans to get Geosnap on-sky with adaptive optics at the MMT in 2021 and Magellan in 2022 with the MIRAC-5 cryostat. We plan to characterize known exoplanets in the mid-IR (e.g. NH3 at 10 microns), study forming protoplanets embedded in circumstellar disks, and perhaps detect mature long period planets discovered through other techniques. Check out all the action at https://www.eso.org/sci/meetings/2020/IR2020.html
We also participated in Exoplanets III held virtually over the summer. M. Meyer presented recent results from the SPHERE SHINE Survey the key part of the GTO program conducted on the ESO VLT (400 stars over 200 nights). Results from this survey are summarized in a trio of papers by Vigan et al. (2020: https://arxiv.org/abs/2007.06573), Desidera et al. (submitted), and Langlois et al. (submitted). More about the Exoplanets III meeting can be found at https://hdconfsys.zah.uni-heidelberg.de/exoplanets3/index.php
FEPS (and the University of Michigan) will be out in force at the Exoplanet Demographics conference next week. Arthur Adams, Fred Adams (no relation!), and Michael Meyer will make presentations at the meeting. Arthur will talk about diagnosing formation pathways of wide orbit planetary mass companions by studying volatile abundances in their atmospheres (relative to the host star), Fred will give an overview of his recently submitted paper on the planet mass function (Adams, Meyer, and Adams!), and Michael will present recent work on the companion mass ratio distribution of brown dwarf and gas giants as a function of orbtial separation and host star mass. See all the action at: https://nexsci.caltech.edu/conferences/exodem/
The Mid-Infrared ELT Imager and Spectrograph, METIS, has officially passed its Preliminary Design Review for the European Southern Observatory 39 meter Extremely Large Telescope. The University of Michigan Department of Astronomy is participating in this instrument consortium with our international partners, and will participate in the Science Team to use the instrument when it is commissioned, planned for 2028. The IRIS Lab, part of the FEPS Research Group efforts, is helping to assess the Geosnap detector for use in METIS. We look forward to working with the METIS Team, and the rest of the Department of Astronomy to help METIS make amazing discoveries in the future.
As part of limited re-opening of research labs at the University of Michigan, following re-start of some economic activity in the state of Michigan, the IRIS lab has commenced limited operations. All work is being done in accordance with the regulations of the Envrionmental, Health, and Safety Office of the University of Michigan. This includes use of personal protective equipment by staff, twice daily disinfecting of equipment used, and appropriate physical distancing in the building. For the moment, we are operating with only one staff member in the lab at a time. We also hope to operate our Michigan Infrared Thermal Test ELT N-band (MITTEN) cryostat remotely after re-configuration this week. Our main goal is to continue testing the Geosnap mid-infrated detector for future use in the MIRAC-5 camera destined for the 6.5 meter MMT (with the MAPS adaptive optics system) in Arizona, as well as the Magellan Clay Telescope (with MagAO) in Chile. Below is Prof. Meyer’s health check sticker from June 4 upon entering the building, representing permission to reopen the IRIS lab.
Prof. Meyer was a guest recently on the Everything Astronomy podcast, hosted by undergraduates at the University of Michigan. Topics discussed range from exoplanets, to careers in astronomy, to science funding. The first of three installments is now available. Check it out!