2003 Annual Science Report
University of California, Los Angeles Reporting | JUL 2002 – JUN 2003
Extra Solar Planetary Systems
Work continued on the search for young nearby stars that are prime targets for direct imaging detection of extra solar planets. Advances included discovery of about a dozen more members to the nearest, youngest stellar group known to date, the Beta Pictoris moving group. We also identified a handful of new TW Hydrae members and about a dozen new Tucana/HorA members. To date, ~200 young nearby stars have been identified. Observational search for massive planets around young main sequence stars continues.
Work also continued on adapting Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) instrumentation for astrobiology research. This included defining the GRISM spectrometry and filters needed in the UCLA FLITECAM 1-5μm cameras and the Cornell FORCAST 5-40μm camera. Organic dust signatures are seen throughout this wavelength range.
The properties of dust orbiting main sequence stars with the Keck telescopes remained an area of active research this past year. A paper published this year on the debris disk around Beta-Pic shows that the crystalline silicate feature at 9.6μm is strong in the region 5 to 10 AU from the star, but disappears at 15 to 20 AU from the star. A paper on the dust content of stars in the TW Hydra association is ready for submittal.
PROJECT INVESTIGATORS:Eric Becklin
PROJECT MEMBERS:Richard Webb
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 1.1
Models of formation and evolution of habitable planets
Indirect and direct astronomical observations of extrasolar habitable planets
Biosignatures to be sought in Solar System materials
Biosignatures to be sought in nearby planetary systems