Abstract by Elisabeth Frischknecht
Physics and Astronomy
Finding Planets Around Massive Stars
Astronomers have long suspected that our solar system formed from the accretion of material in a disk located around a developing star. Only recently have observations of solar systems outside our own been able to lend to this theory. However, many of the exoplanets that have been detected were observed around stars similar to our own sun. This is likely due to an observational bias from the methods currently used to detect exoplanets. However, my project will use a new technique called principle component analysis to search for planets around very hot, massive Herbig Ae/Be (HAeBe) stars. HAeBe stars are classified as 2-10 solar mass pre-main sequence stars with circumstellar disks. These disks make HAeBe excellent candidates for finding exoplanets in their formative stages. Observing planets at this point in their evolution would allow us to place constraints on formation timescales and the masses of planets that can form, providing invaluable information on the formation of solar systems.