Professor Catrina Hamilton-Drager will present "KH 15D: A Proto-Tatooine and Rosetta Stone for Planet Formation" on Thursday, September 27th at Noon in the Stafford Auditorium in the Rector Building. Free pizza & everyone welcome!
Abstract: KH 15D is a young binary system composed of similar, but not identical, low-mass pre-main sequence stars in an orbit of eccentricity of ~ 0.6 with a period of 48.37 days. The binary orbit is viewed nearly edge-on and is embedded in an accretion disk from which a well-collimated outflow emerges. A thin circumbinary ring of evolved solids has precipitated from the gas disk within the terrestrial zone (1-4 AU) of this system. The ring reveals itself as an opaque screen with a razor-sharp edge at optical and near-infrared wavelengths. For decades, the leading edge of this structure has been slowly moving across the binary orbit, apparently resulting from the slightly inclined ring. At a time when NASA's Kepler Mission is discovering multiple-planet systems around evolved binary systems, KH 15D presents us with an opportunity to explore the process of planet formation in such binary systems. This talk will discuss the search for exo-solar planets and focus on the particular opportunities that a system such as KH 15D can provide for the advancement of pre-main sequence stellar evolution and planet formation theories.