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Characterization of planets of all ages with MagAO-X and GMagAO-X at optical wavelengths

Presentation #502.02 in the session Future 2.

Published onJun 20, 2022
Characterization of planets of all ages with MagAO-X and GMagAO-X at optical wavelengths

Thousands of exoplanets have been discovered in the past few decades, revealing a remarkable fact: planets are a common outcome of star formation and are ubiquitous in our galaxy. Direct imaging of exoplanets allows us to unambiguously characterize their atmospheres. To-date, direct imaging has been used almost exclusively to characterize young, self-luminous, massive exoplanets orbiting far from their stars at (near-)infrared wavelengths. However, we need access to spectra of planets at optical wavelengths to understand planet formation. Optical wavelengths give us a window into accretion of planet atmospheres by measuring accretion lines (e.g. hydrogen-alpha) to the formation of life in the form of biosignatures. I will discuss the technical challenges that we have to overcome if we want to enable characterization of older planets on temperate orbits, including smaller planets, with the next generation of Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs). The ELTs could enable the atmospheric characterization of tens or hundreds of older temperate exoplanets, of which some are potentially hosting life. I will show how we are implementing novel adaptive optics and spectroscopy solutions for these technical problems and their first on-sky results on MagAO-X. The results from this work are then directly used to validate our design process of GMagAO-X, a direct imaging instrument that is under development for the Giant Magellan Telescope.

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