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ExoComets: Now You See Them, Now You Don't

Minor bodies such as Kuiper Belt Objects, comets and asteroids constitute the rocky, icy debris left over from the planet building phase of our solar system. The existence of reservoirs of small rocky bodies (i.e. asteroids/planetesimals) in orbit around young stellar systems is now well established. The initial proto- planetary disks that contain the reservoir of dust and gas required to to form exoplanets are short lived (<<1Myr). The circumstellar debris disk observed around young stars of ages 10-50 Myr are continually replenished by collision and evaporation amongst planetesimals. The gravitational field can potentially enable large numbers of kilometer-sized icy bodies into trajectories directed toward the young central star.

Using high resolution spectrographs mounted on large aperture ground based telescopes, we have discovered 15 young stars that harbor swarms of exocomets. This lecture will describe attributes of comets in our solar system, and observing techniques to detect evaporating exocomets around young stars. The relevance of Kepler's discovery of "Tabby's Star" will also be discussed.

Speaker: Barry Welsh, UC Bekeley

Editor's Note: The start time for this event has been changed to 7:30.


Tuesday, 12/19/17


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San Francisco Amateur Astronomers

Presidio Officer's Club
50 Moraga Ave
San Francisco, CA 94129