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2/20/20: SO/NSF's OIR Lab Joint Colloquium Series: Suvrath Mahadevan, Penn State University


Title: Precision Radial Velocity & Photometry from the Ground: Advances, Prospects & Challenges

Modern astronomical instruments are approaching the exquisite sensitivity to detect the signature of an Earth-mass planet around a Sun-like star. In this talk I shall discuss the challenges involved in making these difficult measurements with the Doppler radial velocity technique, and the evolution of the design of these instruments as they seek ever-tighter control of environmental parameters, higher resolution and efficiency, and to observe large spectral regions in the optical and infra-red. A suite of new technologies like frequency stabilized laser combs, low drift etalons, and deeper understanding of the detectors is enabling a new level of precision in radial velocity measurements - as well as illustrating new challenges. I will present the current status of the NEID spectrometer, now being commissioned at the WIYN 3.5m at Kitt Peak, as well as discuss emerging scientific results from the near-infrared Habitable Zone Planet Finder on the 10m Hobby Eberly Telescope that will also illustrate some of the challenges of stellar activity. Time permitting I will also describe how beam-shaping diffusers are now enabling space-quality photometry from the ground to aid in photometric follow-up and confirmation of transiting exoplanets.

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