Almost 4,000 extrasolar planets are now known, but almost all have been detected through so-called indirect methods-- measuring the parent star’s Doppler shift or brightness variations. Direct detection refers to spatially separating the planet’s light from that of the star. It is extremely challenging-- Jupiter in our solar system is 10^-9 the luminosity of the sun --but allows observations of planets inaccessible to other methods, particularly the outer parts of target systems, and allows spectral acharacterization of a planet’s atmospheric properties.
I will discuss the optical physics that makes direct detection challenging, and the techniques-- adaptive optics, coronagraphy, and image processing --that can overcome these challenges. To date, direct detection has been successful for young Jupiter-like planets, and I will show highlights of those discoveries. Finally, I will review future prospects for instruments on ground-based extremely large telescopes, or dedicated space missions with coronagraphs or formation-flying star shades which may reach the level of sensitivity needed to detect Earth-like planets around nearby stars.
Lauren Groff has said of Jennifer Acker's forthcoming book, "The Limits of the World is such a smart, compassionate and elegant novel, so deeply invested in morality and the subtleties of families, cultures, and continents, that it feels delicious and exciting to recall that this is [her] debut."
Acker is founder and editor-in-chief of The Common. Her short stories, essays, translations and reviews have appeared in Literary Hub, The Washington Post, n+1, Guernica and Ploughshares, among other places. Her essay-length memoir is forthcoming as a Kindle Single from Amazon Original Stories in 2019.
This book talk is co-sponsored by the Creative Writing Center and Center for Humanistic Inquiry.
Image by Zoe Fisher
Rebecca Kneale Gould is associate professor of environmental studies at Middlebury College, where she teaches courses in the environmental humanities. She received her Ph.D. in the study of religion from Harvard University in 1997, and her research and teaching focus on the many compelling ways in which religious and spiritual identity shape and are shaped by our relationships to the natural world (both urban and rural). She is the author of numerous articles and books, and has worked as a board member for the Religion and Ecology group of the American Academy of Religion and currently serves on the boards of Vermont Interfaith Power and Light and The Thoreau Society.
The environmental movement in the United States has been criticized, quite justifiably, for its overwhelming “whiteness”—including the demographics of its leadership, its lack of attention to social and environmental justice, and the racist views of many early conservationists. Where does the life and work of Henry David Thoreau fit into this troubled history? Should we still read, teach and study the work of this “dead white man” today? Gould's argument is that we do a disservice both to Thoreau and to ourselves if we fail to acknowledge the “whiteness” of his thinking and his legacy. At the same time, however, Thoreau’s work calls us to be accountable to our broken world in ways that may ring true now more than ever. In this talk, Gould will offer both scholarly and pedagogical reflections on reading Thoreau with attention to race, leaving ample time for questions and conversation.
This lecture is free and open to the public and is generously sponsored by the Willis D. Wood Fund.
The Department of Mathematics and Statistics is hosting a panel to kickoff our new RLadies group! Amelia McNamara and Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel will be discussing their current research, as well as their experiences as women in the field of Statistics. If you have questions about what a career in statistics could look like, or want to hear first-hand from women in STEM, come to our kickoff panel!
Visit the Mezzanine Gallery in Frost Library to view Between the Imagined and Seen: The Hand-Pulled Prints of Betsey Garand and Microscope Images of Caroline Goutte, on exhibit from March 4 to Aug. 30. This exhibition is sponsored by the Arts at Amherst Initiative
Professor Caroline Goutte is chair of the Department of Biology and a member of the Program in Biochemistry and Biophysics at Amherst College. Betsey Garand is senior resident artist in the Department of Art and the History of Art at Amherst College.