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Seeing Planets around Other Suns: First Light with the Gemini Planet Imager

Presented by: Marshall Perrin (Space Telescope Science Institute)
Category: Education and Outreach   Duration: 13 hours and 10 minutes   Broadcast date: September 02, 2014
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Thousands of exoplanets are now known, but only a handful have been seen directly. Such observations are extraordinarily challenging because a star is millions to billions of times brighter than a planet. After ten years of work, an international team of scientists and engineers has now completed a new and highly specialized instrument to obtain the best images yet of nearby solar systems, the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI). GPI can see planets a factor of ten better than any previous instrument. Over the next few years, it will survey hundreds of nearby stars and return images and spectra of dozens of Jupiter-type planets. Examination of these worlds with GPI opens the way to new discoveries about the properties of planets and observational tests of theories for the formation of solar systems. Similar technologies on future large space telescopes, successors to Hubble and JWST, will let us seek out and study potentially Earth-like planets around nearby stars.