Alex Wolszczan discusses Arecibo’s potential in the field of exoplanets

Arecibo Observatory Seminar Series

Dr. Alex Wolszczan
Astronomy March 8th, 2019

Alex Wolszczan discusses Arecibo’s potential in the field of exoplanets

- written by Nipuni Palliyaguru

Dr. Alex Wolszczan, who is a professor at Penn State and a long-term user, visited the Arecibo Observatory during the week of March 4th, 2019 as part of an observing campaign to search for radio emission from cool brown dwarfs.

During this visit, Alex spoke about the possibility of detecting such planets via flaring radio emission and about detecting planets around pulsars through precision timing. He also talked about Jupiter-Io like emission from compact planetary systems, and plans to search for such flaring events from low-mass stars, brown dwarfs, and white dwarfs.

Dr. Alex Wolszczan, Dr. Abel Mendez & students

Dr. Alex Wolszczan with Dr. Abel Mendez and his undergraduate students and faculty from University of PR at Arecibo, who are performing exoplanet searches with the Arecibo telescope.

The measurement of magnetic fields is key in probing the internal structure of exoplanets and has important implications for habitability. He spoke about how Arecibo’s sensitivity is crucial in detecting these faint systems and the need to observe at frequencies from below 1 GHz to at least 10 GHz. Arecibo telescope can observe up to 10 GHz and is the largest single dish telescope, currently operational, capable of observing at frequencies above 1.4 GHz.

At the February 2019 Arecibo Futures meeting, aimed at discussing a science blueprint for the next decade, exoplanet research was identified as a key area that the Arecibo observatory could be a leader in. The seminar was attended by current and former observatory staff, faculty and students from UPR Arecibo. This effort is part of an initiative to involve undergraduate and graduate students of Puerto Rican universities in the activities conducted at the Observatory.

Arecibo Media Contact
Ricardo Correa
Universidad Metropolitana (UMET)
787-878-2612 ext. 615

Technical Contact
Dr. Nipuni Palliyaguru
Astronomy Department

About Arecibo Observatory
The Arecibo Observatory is operated by the University of Central Florida (UCF) in partnership with Sistema Ana G. Mendez Universidad Metropolitana and Yang Enterprises Inc., under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Keywords: astronomy, observatory, arecibo, planetary, systems, exoplanets, jupiter, dwarfs