Searching for Tatooine: the PAVO Planet Hunt

Summary

This project is one of the first to hunt for planets in orbit around double-star systems, and it will use a pioneering approach in advanced instrumentation to achieve an unprecedented sensitivity in revealing distant worlds.

Supervisor(s)

Associate Professor Peter Tuthill

Research Location

School of Physics

Program Type

Masters/PHD

Synopsis

The new PAVO instruments, just brought online at the SUSI and CHARA arrays, have now achieved the highest sensitivity and resolution ever obtained. With this PhD project, you will develop a new astrometric interferometer mode for PAVO at the SUSI telescope which will probe nearby bright binary star systems for planetary companions. Double star systems have been largely overlooked in conventional planet hunts to date for which they are problematic, but our high precision methods exploit the properties of the binary to make the extremely high precision measurements needed to reveal the presence of planets. This challenging and ambitious project is among the key objectives for the facility. You will participate in the design and construction of advanced optical instrumentation, and then set the experiment in motion by leading an observational program targeting a handful of bright southern binary stars. Success in finding a planet in even one of these systems would be a signature result, commanding attention from the astronomical community worldwide.

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Keywords

physics, astrophysics, astrophysical instrumentation, exoplanets, brown dwarfs, planets, stellar physics, young stars, star formation, optical interferometry, Imaging, high resolution astronomy

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 652

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