Space-Based Far-Infrared Telescope – Dr Doug Johnstone

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The Need for a Space-Based Far-Infrared Telescope – Dr Doug Johnstone, NRC

Date/Time: Wednesday December 13th starting at 7:30PM

Location: Bob Wright Centre, Lecture Theatre B150. Park in Lot 1 (pay parking) and cross Ring Road.

Far infrared astronomy has been referred to as: the science of the cold, the old, and the dusty. In this talk I will discuss the importance of the far-infrared for astronomy investigations of young stars, distant galaxies, and the granular dirt responsible for rocky planets and, potentially, life! I will give a little history of the space-based missions that have already taken place and provide a glimpse into the difficult task of ensuring a future mission, and Canadian involvement. Along the way I will enumerate the significant complexities of far infrared measurements that lead to the requirement of expensive space-based observatories.

Dr. Doug Johnstone is a Principal Research Officer at NRC Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics (HAA) and the NRC; President’s Science Advisor; Adjunct Professor, University of Victoria.

Doug has been an astronomer at HAA for over twenty years, studying star and planet formation with ground and space-based telescopes. For two years he was the Associate Director of the sub-mm James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii.

Most recently his research has focused on the mass assembly of young stars, monitoring the brightness changes of deeply embedded protostars from the mid-IR to sub-mm. He also has guaranteed time observations with JWST, searching for forming planets around young stars.

Circumstellar disks – Dr. Brenda Matthews

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“You can’t have one without the other: Circumstellar disks produce and are produced by planets” – Dr. Brenda Matthews, NRC

Many people know that planets form in circumstellar disks around young stars, but did you know that planets later drive the formation of a secondary disk in approximately 1 out of every 5 solar systems? I will present the latest imaging of planet formation and explore the improving possibilities of detecting planets around main sequence stars via the disks they can help create at later times. Using imaging from ALMA and JWST, I will present new discoveries about these more evolved “debris disks” and highlight the potential for future instrumentation to teach us even more.

Date/Time: November 8, 2023, starting at 7:30PM

Location: Bob Wright Centre, Lecture Theatre A104, University of Victoria. Park in Lot 1 (pay parking) and cross Ring Road.

ALMA telescope array
ALMA telescope array
Dr. Brenda Matthews

Dr. Brenda Matthews has a PhD from McMaster University in 2001. From there, she held a postdoctoral fellowship at UC Berkeley before joining NRC in 2004. Since 2019, she has been the Millimetre Astronomy Group Lead and, as such coordinates the MAG support for the ALMA telescope as part of the North American ALMA Science Center. She is an expert in infared,, mm and submm astronomy, polarization imaging and interferometry. Since 2002, much of her research has focussed on debris disks, circumstellar disks around main sequence stars, produced via collisions of comets and asteroids, and she has authored two reviews on debris disks.

She was the PI of a key program on the Herschel Space Observatory, is a member of the disks team of the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey and is a member of an Early Release Science team targeting exoplanets and disks with JWST. Dr. Matthews was also a member of the Canadian Astronomical Society’s 2020 Long Range Plan panel and is co-chair of the Science Advisory Committee for the Next Generation Very Large Array (ngVLA).

NEW EARTH Lab – Find Life on Exoplanets

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Dr. Christian Marois has agreed to deliver a presentation for our October 11th UVic Meeting. It is an exciting topic from a renowned Astronomer. What a great way to relaunch the RASC Speaker Program at UVic! – Reg Dunkley, Past President, RASC Victoria Centre

Date/Time: October 11, 2023, starting at 7:30PM

Location: Bob Wright Centre, Lecture Theatre A104, University of Victoria. Park in Lot 1 (pay parking) and cross Ring Road.

“The NRC NEW EARTH Laboratory, and the Quest to Develop the Tools to Find Life on Exoplanets” – Dr. Christian Marois, NRC

New Earth Lab - NRC

Are there Earth-size exoplanets orbiting nearby stars? Is there life as-we-know-it on these Worlds? The exoplanet field is rapidly progressing toward having the required technology to discover rocky Earth-size exoplanets orbiting nearby Sun-like stars, and search for life signatures. I will describe my NRC NEW EARTH team progress over the last few years to test new innovations, and deploy them in two frontier instruments, the SPIDERS pathfinding at the Subaru telescope, and the CAL2 instrument at the Gemini North observatory. I will also describe our new breakthrough concept, STARLITE, that could dramatically speed-up the discovery and search for Earth-like exoplanets using current and future ground-based telescopes. I will finally discuss possible roles that Canada could play in the ~2040 NASA Habitable World Observatory, a ~6m Hubble Space Telescope successor that is optimized for imaging and characterizing Earth-size planets.

Dr. Christian Marois
Dr. Christian Marois

Dr. Christian Marois, NRC astronomer and University of Victoria adjunct professor, has revolutionized how we view the universe by pioneering direct imaging of exoplanets. He invented the most powerful high-contrast techniques, methods that are now widely used by the community, and he led an international team of astronomers to make the ground-breaking discovery of the first images of planets orbiting a star other than the Sun, the HR8799 planetary system.

Dr. Marois is the founder and principal investigator of Canada’s only high-contrast imaging laboratory, NEW EARTH, a one-of-a-kind facility for innovation. He is involved in international collaborations, including the Gemini Planet Imager instrument survey team, and is working toward developing frontier technologies for current and future 30-m class telescopes, focussing on the discovery of Earth-like exoplanets and search for life outside our Solar system. He is currently leading the development of three projects, SPIDERS, a pathfinder for the Subaru telescope, CAL2, a facility-class sensor for the Gemini Planet Imager, and STARLITE, a system for imaging Earth-like exoplanets orbiting Sun-like stars using ground-based telescopes.