Categories: Weekly Space Hangout

Weekly Space Hangout: March 4, 2020 – Did RIT Scientists Find A Baby Giant Planet?

Hosts: Fraser Cain ( / @fcain)

Dr. Kimberly Cartier ( / @AstroKimCartier )

Dave Dickinson ( / @astroguyz)

Veranika Klimovich ( @VeranikaSpace)

Tonight we welcome Annie Dickson-Vandervelde, Emily Wilson. and Dr. Joel Kastner to the WSH.

Annie led this team of Rochester Institute of Technology astronomers which used Gaia data to discover what may be a giant baby planet located closer to Earth than any other similarly aged planet so far. Since their paper was published in the Research Notes of the American Astronomical Society on February 7, 2020, their collaborators at other institutions received additional new data and now the situation surrounding their discovery is now confusing. Annie, Emily, and Joel will be providing insight into their research and what this new data may now indicate.

Annie Dickson-Vandervelde is a Ph.D. student in RIT’s Astrophysical Sciences and Technology program in Rochester, NY. Annie has a broad range of observational research including exoplanet discovery and planetary formation.

Emily Wilson is a Ph.D. student in RIT’s Astrophysical Sciences and Technology program in Rochester, NY. Her research largely focuses on theoretical binary star evolution, though recent work has included observational stellar astrophysics studies on nearby young moving groups. In addition, she conducts research with colleagues at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf on signing with conceptual accuracy in physics classrooms. Her undergraduate degree in Astrophysics was completed at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA.

Joel Kastner earned a BS in Physics at the University of Maryland (1981) and Masters and PhD degrees in Astronomy at the University of California Los Angeles in 1986. As a postdoc at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he worked on a team developing the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. Joel’s research interests include Star and planet formation; late stages of stellar evolution; X-ray, optical/IR, and radio imaging and spectroscopy; and image processing algorithms and systems. Joel joined the faculty at the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2005, and in 2013 he also joined RIT’s School of Physics and Astronomy. He served as the Director of the Laboratory for Multiwavelength Astrophysics at RIT from 2010 through 2016. In 2020 he was named an American Astronomical Society Legacy Fellow.

You can read RIT’s press release about this exciting discovery here:


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Susie Murph

Susie Murph is the Communications Specialist at CosmoQuest. She also produces Astronomy Cast and the Weekly Space Hangout, and is the former producer of the Parsec Award-winning Guide to Space video series.

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