A Sydney City Skywatchers Event
Non-members are welcome
NEXT MEETING: Monday 3 November 2014
TOPIC: Search for Water on Extra Solar Planets by Using Polarized Light by Dr Lucyna Kedziora-Chudczer, UNSW.
Place: Sydney Observatory ‘Discovery Room’
Water is an essential ingredient of life on Earth. If water in liquid form is detected on any extra solar planet, this will open an exciting possibility that life similar to our own can be present there. We can detect water in gaseous form by observations of its absorption bands in optical and infrared planetary spectra. However the existence of liquid water can only be confirmed by polarimetry measurements.
Stellar light reflected from planetary surfaces and atmospheres is linearly polarised, in contrast with the typically unpolarised stellar light. Therefore polarization signal from the planet can be detected in combined, stellar and planetary light. I will describe the physical effects that could be detected with sensitive polarimeters, and ultimately to reveal the existence of liquid water on exoplanets. At the UNSW we have have built such a cutting-edge polarimeter and started testing it at the 3.9m Anglo-Australian Telecope (AAT) at Siding Spring Observatory.
Our presenter: Dr Lucyna Kedziora-Chudczer is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of New South Wales. After completing her PhD on the radio variability of Active Galactic Nuclei at the University of Sydney in 1999, she became the AAO/ATNF Research Fellow at the Anglo Australian Observatory studying polarization properties and monitoring the intraday variable quasars. In 2003 she moved to the University of Sydney, where she was offered a position of the Harry Messel Research Fellow, and continued her work on both the polarization of compact radio sources and properties of our local Galactic Interstellar Medium. During this time, she also taught undergraduate courses and mentored the PhD students. In 2009 she accepted a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the UNSW in the area of planetary and exo-planetary research. She is a member of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology. Her interests include the spectroscopy and polarimetry observations of exoplanets, as well as the modelling of planetary atmospheres. She is also involved in the design and construction of the High Precision Polarimetric Instrument (HIPPI) that was commissioned at the AAT telescope this year. Use this link to find out more.