New ET Detection Method Calls for World’s Largest Telescope

THE FOLLOWING ITEM WAS ISSUED BY ASTRONOMY MAGAZINE IN WAUKESHA, WISCONSIN, AND IS POSTED ON MY BLOG FOR YOUR INFORMATION.

29 May 2013

 This release is based on a story in the June 2013 issue of Astronomy magazine: http://www.astronomy.com/~/media/Files/PDF/Magazine%20articles/ET-with-infrared-light.pdf

Until recently, one of the ultimate mysteries of the universe — how many civilizations may exist on planets orbiting other stars in the Milky Way Galaxy — relied on the possibility of detecting intelligent beings by radio signals. Now a team of astronomers, engineers, and physicists from the University of Hawaii, the University of Freiburg, and elsewhere has proposed a new and powerful technique to search for intelligent life.

Artistic rendering of the Colossus telescope, a 77m wide telescope capable of detecting the near-infrared light resulting from a technologically advanced civilization living on an exoplanet located at 60 light-years. (c) http://www.innovativeoptics.ca/
Artistic rendering of the Colossus telescope, a 77m wide telescope capable of detecting the near-infrared light resulting from a technologically advanced civilization living on an exoplanet located at 60 light-years. (c) http://www.innovativeoptics.ca/

Progress on the GPI exoplanet imager integration

The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a next generation adaptive optics instrument being built for the Gemini Observatory. This is an ambitious project with the goal of directly imaging extrasolar planets orbiting nearby stars. The instrument is currently being integrated at the University of California at Santa Cruz. After more than a year of testing in a fixed orientation in a clean room, on March 7, 2013, the 2,030 kg instrument was set up on a crane and flexure rig. In collaboration with the UCSC team, we prepared this time lapse video showing GPI being set up in its new position.

GPI instrument being set up on its flexure jig mounting (Credit: GPI consortium)

Being in Toronto for the GPI Science Workshop… remotely

The Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey team held a meeting at the University of Toronto June 13-14, 2012. The purpose was to get updated on the hardware and pipeline, anticipating the installation of the instrument at the Gemini South telescope later this year. We also discussed key science contributions we expect GPI to make, in preparation for the first raft of papers from the survey. For instance, I had a 30 minute talk on (1) how the GPI-discovered planets will connect to the populations studied by other techniques, (2) what we’re learning about planetary systems from dynamical investigations and the Kepler space telescope, for placing the anticipated GPI discoveries in context.