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Marc KuchnerMarc Kuchner Finding Planetary Systems through Citizen Science

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Building 3 Auditorium - 11:45 AM
(Coffee and cookies at 10:30 AM)

The Disk Detective project is scouring the data archive from NASA's WISE all-sky survey to find new debris disks and protoplanetary disks. Volunteers on this new citizen science website have already performed more than 800,000 classifications of WISE sources, searching a catalog 8x the size of any published WISE survey. We ultimately expect to increase the pool of known exozodiacal disks by ~400 and triple the solid angle in clusters of young stars examined with WISE, providing a unique new catalog of isolated disk stars, key planet-search targets, and candidate advanced extraterrestrial civilizations.

Marc Kuchner is an astrophysicist known for his work on images and imaging of disks and exoplanets. Together with Wesley Traub, he invented the band-limited coronagraph a design for the proposed Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) telescope, also to be used on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). He is also known for his novel supercomputer models of planet-disk interactions and for developing the ideas of ocean planets, carbon planets, and Helium planets.

Kuchner received his bachelor's degree in physics from Harvard in 1994 and his Ph.D. in astronomy from California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 2000. His doctoral thesis advisor was "pluto killer" Michael Brown. After he earned his Ph.D., Kuchner studied at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics as a Michelson Fellow, and then at Princeton University as a Hubble Fellow. Kuchner was awarded the 2009 SPIE early career achievement award for his work on coronagraphy. He currently serves as the principal investigator of the popular citizen science website and frequently answers the "Ask Astro" questions in Astronomy Magazine.
IS&T Colloquium Committee Host: John Donohue

Sign language interpreter upon request: 301-286-7040