Astronomy Colloquium - "Brave the Elements: Understanding How Stellar Abundances Affect Planets and Their Structure"

Speaker Natalie Hinkel, Vanderbilt University
Date: 11/7/2017
Time: 3:45 p.m.

134 Astronomy

Event Contact: Rebecca Bare

Department of Astronomy

Event Type: Seminar/Symposium

Stars are the furnaces that produced most of the elements within the Periodic Table. It is by studying these basic elements within the Hypatia Catalog, the largest stellar elemental abundance dataset for stars near to the Sun, that we can understand those events that must have taken place prior to the formation of the Solar System. Additionally, because stars and planets are formed at the same time, we can make meaningful connections between the chemical properties of stars and their orbiting planets. The current techniques for discovering exoplanets, for example the radial velocity, transit, and microlensing methods, depend entirely on the physical properties between the planet and star relative to the Earth. However, it has been shown by dozens of groups that [Fe/H]-rich stars are more likely to host giant planets. I will discuss how non-Fe stellar abundances may be used to determine planetary composition and mineralogy. I will also describe a Netflix-esque recommendation algorithm to determine which stars in the solar neighborhood are likely to host to-date undetected giant exoplanets, based on the abundances of specific elements within stars. The ability to understand not only the physical relationship but also the chemical relationship between stars and planets will help narrow the observational field for truly habitable, Earth-like planets.

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